A visit to Santa’s Village

Santa sitting with three elves(December 2018) The Children’s Discovery Museum in Bangor was transformed into Santa’s Village on Sunday December 2nd for the Maine Autism Institute’s Family Partnership (MFP) annual holiday celebration for families impacted by autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Santa and his team of elves greeted children of all ages as they entered Santa’s Village, cheerfully decorated and humming with activity.

University of Maine Ph.D. students Martha Gladstone and Barbara Clewley gently guided children to visit with the MFP’s sensitive Santa, who was well tuned to the sensory challenges of those with ASD, and playfully engaged siblings who joined them. UMaine student volunteers dressed as Santa’s elves led holiday craft activities at the Village, guiding youngsters with both patience and humor. Children choose their favorite “fidget” toy from Santa, and MAIER presented each family with a winter themed book to take home.

In addition to Santa’s Village, families explored the entire three floors of the Discovery Museum, closed to other visitors for this special “My Day to Play” event. Museum staff were on hand to guide and support families as needed, with special accommodations for those impacted by ASD. Our enthusiastic thanks to Trudi Plummer, MDM Education Director, Rosalyn Fisher, retired OT, and their Museum staff for supporting our holiday event each year. For more information about the Museum’s twice-monthly “My Day to Play” time for families impacted by ASD, visit the MDM website.

Our thanks to all the families who joined us for our holiday event and to those who helped make this event a success, Bri, Martha, Barb, Bella, Jacob, Liam, Maxwell, William, Amber, Kasey, and Mary. And special thanks to our Santa Roy and “Buddy” (aka Tommy) for bringing the joy of visiting Santa to over 30 MFP families visiting our “Santa’s Village” at the Maine Discovery Museum!

Young girl sitting with Santa, smilingYoung girl sitting in hammockYoung boy playing with water and sandYoung boy at Museum, laying atop large ceramic turtleSanta sitting with young teen boy smiling