By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  The sights and sounds of the holiday season can be joyful, dazzling, and bright, but for children with Autism they can be downright terrifying.

Lennon Turco went to Philadelphia Mills, to give his wish list to Santa.

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The young man is just one of millions of children with Autism.

For them, the holiday season can be a scary time.

“Because it’s not part of their typical routine, so there’s a lot of unexpected noises, sights, smells and events,” said Stephanie Cassidy, an occupational therapist for children with special needs.

“You can see them crying,” Stephanie said. “You can see what we call stemming, having difficulty with the situation.”

Which is why pictures, showing a mall Santa in South Carolina interacting on the floor with a child, went viral.

“It was really touching and endearing,” Stephanie said. “It gave that child and that family an opportunity to really experience something that many of us take for granted.”

It’s also why places like the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support, have special Sensory Santa meetings.

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“Because you see some of them a little bit hesitant at first, maybe a little shy to go up to Santa,” said Stephanie. “Then by the end, maybe they’re playing football with Santa Clause, or they’re playing their favorite game on their iPad with Santa.”

At events like this, autism families get 20 minutes to be with Santa, away from loud noises and flashing lights.

Patrice Kennedy waited with her son Calvin, to see Santa.

“This is the first time that he’s actually been able to go sit and see Santa,” Patrice said. “I wanted him to have a chance to take part in a Christmas tradition.”

When it’s finally his turn, you can see a smile on Calvin’s face, and his mom’s.

And that’s what it’s all about, providing a happy experience to families, who might not otherwise get one.

Because after all everyone deserves a hug from Santa!

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We talked to parents over and over again who told us without events like these, they would never get a picture with Santa.

Stephanie Stahl