Christmas can be an overwhelming experience for some children and visiting Santa’s grotto can be particularly challenging for those with autism or mental health conditions.
Sussex Services For Autism, a Goring-based community interest company working across the county, has been running a Christmas appeal to bring a little cheer to families with vulnerable individuals.
The idea is to bring Santa and his elves to the children in their homes, since there is a lack of provision across the county of grottos for that are accessible for autistic children.
Lizzie Gale, managing director and behaviour support consultant, said this was the first time she had done fundraising for her not-for-profit service and there had been a fantastic response.
She explained: “Best bit is we are raising funds to bring Santa home to the kids with Christmas presents and food vouchers for their families.
“As Christmas draws nearer, a time where many of us overindulge on luxurious foods and gifts for our friends and families, some of our most vulnerable individuals can find Christmas a very isolating and overwhelming time of year.
“Some of our families will struggle to provide a Christmas for their children, not being able to afford the luxuries and Christmas gifts that their children deserve.
“We want to bring Santa home to the families who we support. We would like to be able to buy Christmas presents for the children and food shopping for their families, and best of all we want Santa to visit them – and, of course, presents for all the adults we support too.
“Many children with autism can find visiting Santa an overwhelmingly difficult experience, so we would love the opportunity to bring Santa home to them in an environment where they feel safe and comfortable.”
Sussex Services For Autism, based in Goring Road, provides an outreach support service for children, young people and adults with autism or mental health conditions.
Lizzie has more than ten years of experience supporting people of all ages with autism, Asperger’s and associated conditions. She is currently completing her PhD at the University of Kent, where she is researching autism in females, with the overall aim of developing and piloting a screening tool to be used in frontline services.