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Malls set special Santas for deaf, autistic children

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Published:   |   Updated: November 22, 2013 at 06:19 PM

Some kids are terrified of Santa, because he’s Santa. Other kids have an extra reason shy away.

And so in the upcoming days, two of Tampa’s major shopping malls will have Santa time set aside for kids who are autistic or deaf.

At International Plaza mall, this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Santa will be speaking sign language, and the mall will host kids connected with the Florida Association of the Deaf and Bay Care St. Joseph’s Hospital who are hard of hearing or deaf. There will be special Santa’s helpers to help translate, and Santa himself will be signing with the kids to hear their wishes.

Then at Westshore Plaza mall this Sunday, Dec. 8 from 9 to 11 a.m., families can bring in kids affected by autism for a “Sensitive Santa” visit. Music will be turned down and there will be fewer shoppers bustling around – providing an environment that’s less likely to overwhelm kids with autism.

rmullins@tampatrib.com

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