Heartwarming photo shows mall Santa going the extra mile for boy - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Heartwarming photo shows mall Santa going the extra mile for boy with autism

The mall Santa lying on the ground with Brayden Deely (AutismSpeaks.com) The mall Santa lying on the ground with Brayden Deely (AutismSpeaks.com)
FOX19 -

A photo of a Charlotte mall Santa lying on the ground with a boy with autism has gained national attention.

The picture was captured during a special Caring Santa event at SouthPark mall in North Carolina, according to Autism Speaks. The annual program organized by the group is meant to give special needs families their own unique opportunity to visit and take photos with Santa.

Autism Speaks says the boy, 6-year-old Brayden Deely, seemed shy as he approached Santa's chair. Rather than wait to see if Brayden made his way up to his lap, the caring Santa got on the ground with him and started to play with Brayden and his toys. 

"I thought we would never get those holiday pictures with him because it's something he can't handle – the noise, and the pressure. He gets anxious if you ask him to smile, it's all too much for him," Erin Deely told PEOPLE.

The simple gesture was all Brayden needed to feel safe, and secure with Santa.

"Oh my gosh, to be able to do something that other families do...normally a lot of things are harder for us as a family and we got to do the same tradition as everyone else, we just do it on the floor," Erin said. 

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