Santa Claus made a 4-year-old Rhode Island girl’s holiday season happy and sweet.

Michelle MacIntosh and her daughter, Briana, recently visited North Attleborough’s Emerald Square Mall, where they encountered the “perfect” Santa, who understood the special needs of Briana.

Briana has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. The Disease Control and Prevention Centers identify cerebral paralysis as a group of disorders that affect the ability of an individual to move and maintain balance and posture. The most severe form of spastic quadriplegia affects the arms, legs, torso, and face.

(Photo courtesy of Michelle MacIntosh)

There are also several other diagnoses that Briana has, including cortical visual impairment or CVI.

“Her eyes are healthy, but her brain isn’t interpreting what she’s seeing, so that makes her legally blind,” MacIntosh said.

She said that leaving their home is often difficult for them.

MacIntosh said Briana often does not react well to other social settings when they go out, like waiting in line for a picture with Santa.

But when he approached them as she was feeding Briana, MacIntosh described the Santa at the Massachusetts mall as amazing, kind, gentle, and loving.

(Photo courtesy of Michelle MacIntosh)

“He was so, so sweet. He talked so softly,” she said. “Her wheelchair was sitting next to us and he could see that she was disabled, ” MacIntosh said.

There were no other children around, so Santa and his new friend enjoyed some extra time.

MacIntosh showed him the best way to hold her up — she needs a great deal of support, so he held her very gently.

“We’re growing out her bangs, so they’re a little long, and he just kept sweetly sweeping it off her face,” said MacIntosh, adding that Briana was so comfortable that she fell asleep in his arms.

“I was very, very happy and emotional. Even just talking about it I’m smiling ear to ear because it’s very hard to go out and get pictures,” MacIntosh recalled.

MacIntosh said she thinks it would be helpful if more facilities kept longer hours for children with special needs and gave them the same compassion and empathy as Santa.

She also said she called the mall to make sure that Santa’s efforts were recognized.

“It was a really special moment,” she said.

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