Meeting the big man in red can be an overwhelming experience for some kids, with the bright lights, the camera flashes and the dozens of screaming children.

For kids with autism, this can be even more frightening. That’s why the Autism Resource Centre partnered with the Cornwall Centre to put on a sensory-friendly Santa experience.

“We’ve turned the mall music off in the common areas, we’ve asked retailers to just be cautious of the centre court area,” said Alexandra Hussey with the Cornwall Centre.

“Also, the Autism Resource Centre is here today and they’ve worked with our Santa photographer and our Santa to help them with handling these families.”

Both children and parents were thankful to have a chance to meet Santa in a comfortable environment.

“Those are the memories that are going to last a lifetime, so we need to have those, so it means everything. Every year we have to have a picture with Santa,” said Amanda Evans, whose son has autism.

“We have done the traditional Santa in the past; however, it just feels so stressful. We feel really rushed.”

Families preregistered for the event and each child was given a 10 minute slot.

This is the second year the event has taken place.