Kerry Magro is the Santa Claus he wishes he could have met as a child.
Magro, 29, has autism, and it was hard for him to visit Santa at the mall when he was a kid. "I dealt with a lot of sensory challenges, so giant malls were never really an option for me," he told HuffPost. Now an author, activist, and motivational speaker, Magro runs a nonprofit called KFM Making a Difference. For the past three Decembers, Magro has donned a Santa suit and met with kids who need to have a "sensory friendly" visit with St. Nick.
Parents sign their kids up for 30-minute sessions, with eight children allowed at a time. The lights and music are turned down, and there are occupational, speech, and physical therapists on hand to help any kids who might need extra support. Since starting the program three years ago, Magro estimates he's worked with 500 kids with everything from autism to hyperactivity disorder, and he's doing it again Dec. 9 and 10 in Jersey City, New Jersey. "We don't want them to feel rushed," he said. "We don't want them to feel overloaded. We just want to make it a labor of love."