‘Sensitive Easter Bunny’ provides unique opportunity for children with Autism

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Before the Colonial Park Mall opened on Sunday morning, a sensitive Easter Bunny was quietly welcoming local kids.

“It’s really geared toward families who have special needs kids with Autism or the spectrum as they call it,” said Susan Arial, marketing director for the Colonial Park Mall.

Families could bring children into an environment with very few distractions. Gary Mehaffey of Lebanon brought his 8-year-old son, Donovan.

Donovan, 8
Donovan, 8

“For him it’s great because he can focus, he doesn’t hear all the extra chatter, deal with all the extra stuff going on and he can really give you a nice picture, and he did a really good job today,” Mehaffey said.

Stacy Fenice of Mechanicsburg said it was also a success for her 7-year-old son, Grant.

Grant, 7, and his sister Gia
Grant, 7, and his sister Gia

“He does really well with no lines, the quietness,” Fenice said. “He had a little more one-on-one time with the bunny, which is why we come.”

At the event, lighting is kept low and music is turned off. And kids who do have a short wait are kept busy with crafts.

And families are not rushed. They are given time to capture that picture perfect holiday moment.

“Some of them are very shy about coming to sit on his lap, so we take that time,” Ariail said. “We don’t rush them.”

“It’s a blessing,” Mehaffey said. “It’s a real blessing.”

The mall has been offering sensitive Santa and sensitive Easter Bunny for the past five years. They plan to bring it back next season, saying every year it just gets better. You can follow the mall on its social media channels to make sure you don’t miss it.

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