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Virtual visits with Santa safely bring joy to families living with autism

Santa Claus safely met families through Zoom on Saturday.
Posted at 2:36 PM, Dec 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-11 23:57:06-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Twenty-five families in Tucson affected by autism got a virtual visit from Santa Claus on Saturday.

For the second straight year, the Autism Society of Southern Arizona organized the special zooms, which provide a safe way for families to meet Santa.

The families sent information to Santa ahead of time so he could better understand each family’s situation.

Many families are immunocompromised and are still isolating at home most of the time to avoid potential COVID-19 infections.

Plus, in-person visits with Santa can involve crowds and noise that can be be overwhelming for people living with autism.

“Most of [the families] were saying we just need that Christmas spirit, that joy, hope for the future,” said Autism Society of Southern Arizona board member and program lead Laura Valenzuela. “Because it has been such a difficult time lately and these children have gone through so much. And just having that hope for the future that things will get better and keep their spirits up.”

Valenzuela says the hope is the Autism Society can continue these virtual visits for years to come.