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Evanna Irvine, 5, sits with Santa Claus during a low-sensory event at the Southcentre Mall on Dec. 1.

A shopping mall photo session with Santa can be a chaotic setting for some families of children with special needs or health conditions. Southcentre Mall is trying to make the experience smoother.

For three Sunday mornings in December, the shopping centre will dim its lights and remove the sound and long lineups to offer a low-sensory environment.

The Bushell family says it's the best way to enjoy a favourite holiday tradition.

"It's exciting. We can come, they get to see him, we get to enjoy the moment, and we're on our way," said Kaylee Bushell.

Shaun Bushell added the experience is great for his kids, who wear down while waiting in the usually long line-up during mall hours.

Sunday's opportunity to visit with Santa was extra meaningful for another little girl: Evanna Irvine, 5, has had multiple surgeries for congenital heart defects but was given a terminal prognosis.

"Any more holiday that we get is just another holiday that we get to celebrate with her," said Evanna's mother, Kierra Irvine.

It's the Irvines' second visit to see Santa at Southcentre Mall, which has become a treasured moment, especially with the extra accommodations.

The next sensory Santa visit is Sunday, Dec. 8.