Martinez, GA (WJBF)- A whole year seems an awful long time when you are a child waiting for Christmas. You look forward to baking cookies, presents and, of course, seeing Santa Claus.

But for many children, standing in line to see Santa can be too overwhelming.

For a neuro-typical child, the lights, music and noise that comes with standing in line to see Santa Claus can be exciting. But for many special needs children, like those on the Autism Spectrum, it can just be too much for them to handle.

“We’ve kind of been in line for a minute or two and it just doesn’t work out, so no, we’ve never done the Santa thing,” said Rachel Reigle, Event Organizer.

Reigle’s 5 year old son Michael is on the Autism Spectrum. She said they’ve never been able to see Santa because of his diagnosis, so when his school sent home a flyer for a sensory Santa, she was intrigued.

“They were unfortunately full. I had never even thought of doing a Sensory Santa or on the concept of it. My son is 5 and he’s never met Santa before because we just always wanted Christmas to be a really positive experience for him,” she explained.

So, Reigle reached out to Santa himself to schedule another Sensory Santa event. Each special needs child and their siblings will have 10 minutes with the jolly old elf who said it’s a safe space for these children.

“No lines. Very understanding elves. An opportunity for them to have a moment as an individual child, as well as their family, with Santa Claus,” said David Quebedeaux, the Sensory Santa Claus.

Sensory Santa will have a special gift for each child. He said he is ready to make sure the children who come to see him feel as comfortable as he can make them.

“So we have some children that might need to bring something with them that makes them feel comfortable. We’ve got one child that’s going to bring her dog,” said Quebedeaux. “We’ve got a child in a wheelchair that’s coming. We have an ADA accessible location here to do this. We’ve got weighted blankets. We’ve got opportunities to accommodate whatever they need.”

Many see an over stimulated child with autism having a meltdown and assume they are misbehaving when they are just overwhelmed.

Reigle said the chance for children like her son to get to see Santa without fear of judgment is magical for the whole family.

“It’s just really exciting to be able to do this for others and talking to moms who feel the way that I have felt. It’s important for our community to come together.”

Sensory Santa will be here at the Church of the Holy Comforter from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 18th.

It’s a free event for special needs children and their families and by appointment only. No walk ins.

To make an appointment call (706)699-9002.

Photojournalist: Will Baker.