Getting a photo with the Easter Bunny is a past time many families cherish. For individuals with disabilities and their families, sensory issues and overstimulation may act as an obstacle for creating this precious memory.
According to an article from Greenwich Times, families at a Waterford, Connecticut mall tried to eliminate the triggers that may cause sensory overstimulation. Nineteen families signed up for what would be a “sensory-friendly” photo with the Easter Bunny.
Rhonda DiMaggio of Oakdale, Connecticut has a son, Hayden, who is on the autism spectrum. DiMaggio said, “We are trying to get him more active and more exposed to different things, “But we are also trying to ease him into things because he has sensory issues. … If this were just the regular Easter Bunny photo, I don’t think we could go”.
Families were able to avoid the long lines and crowded atmosphere that usually surrounds the Easter Bunny. Instead, families signed up for 15-minute time slots that took place before the mall opened for normal business hours. Snacks and activity books were also on hand for children.
One mom called the reduction in stimulation “liberating”.
In a US News article, the marketing assistant for the Crystal Mall, Amie Provost spoke to the article’s author, Stephanie Menders. Provost said “the Waterford locale has been offering sensory-friendly Easter Bunny and Santa photos in recent years, which has brought in “dozens of families who said they normally wouldn’t be able to bring their kids,”.
Provost pointed out what specifically makes the Waterford Easter photos less chaotic for children on the autism spectrum. “There isn’t the same rush, “So families can take the time they need without the pressure of a line waiting behind them and watching. Then, the kids can greet the bunny at their own pace.”
Brandi McGowan, another mom, has two children on the autism spectrum, Mary-Jane and Andrew. McGowan admits the slow approach made a big difference for her two children and said “They did absolutely wonderfully”.
Parents with children that do not have sensory issues or disabilities are also invited to take part in the Easter bunny photos at Crystal Mall in Waterford, CT.