Mall Takes Action When Santa Rejects Little Girl With Autism


For this 7-year-old with autism, a trip to visit Santa was not at all what she expected. But a mall in Mission Viejo, California, took the right steps to defend her and her friendly service pit bull.

Abcde (pronounced Ab-Suh-Dee) Santos, was waiting in line to see Santa at The Shops at Mission Viejo on Sunday when she was denied access to St. Nick, according to ABC News. The man playing Santa allegedly disliked Abcde’s pit bull service dog, Pup-Cake, and refused to see the little girl even after her mother offered to take the dog outside.

Abcde has autism, so standing in line with her family for 30 minutes was more difficult than it would be for most children.

The Santa allegedly made comments like, “Those dogs eat people,” and then said he couldn’t see the girl without the dog because of his allergies, according to a statement Abcde’s family released on Facebook.

 

Family friend and service dog activist Julie Miller, who’s in charge of the Pup-Cake the Service Dog’s Facebook fan page told The OC Register that Abcde was “heartbroken” by the incident.

 

The family contacted representatives from the shopping center who responded quickly.

We do not condone the behavior displayed by Santa and have worked with our partners at Noerr, the company that hires our Santas, to replace this Santa with one that is more compassionate to our guests’ needs,” The Shops at Mission Viejo posted on its Facebook page.

 

 

 

Miller says the family hopes the incident will serve to teach others about their rights.

“They want people to get educated, not about autism or pit bulls, but about the Disabilities Act so that little girls like Abcde won’t go and see Santa and end up crying,” she told the OC Register.

The Shops at Mission Viejo also added:

Every year, The Shops at Mission Viejo hosts Caring Santa experiences, a sensory-friendly environment for families of children with special needs to safely enjoy the time-honored tradition and magic of Santa. This year, The Shops at Mission Viejo is expanding its Caring Santa program beyond the previously-scheduled Sunday, December 7 event. Additional Caring Santa reservations will be available tomorrow after 9 a.m. at this link: http://caringsantasmv.eventbrite.com

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

 

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

A small girl with a bandage on her head sits on a hospital bed

The Day I Became an Advocate for My Child

On September 11, 2014, I watched as my 22-month-old daughter was held down by five hospital staff and wrapped in two blankets like a burrito to have an EEG. She screamed and cried and tears fell down her face like she was being hurt. They kept saying, “This doesn’t hurt her.” Obviously they didn’t get the [...]

What a Mother Doe Made Me Realize About Our Autism Journey

It’s early morning at my parents’ house in the woods, and I find myself with a few moments of quiet to enjoy a cup of coffee and the serene view from the dining room windows. Whether it’s the aftereffect of a nice Thanksgiving weekend or the fact that my son is sleeping in (one of the few [...]

What I've Figured Out So Far About Autism and Christmas

Christmas in our home probably looks a lot different than it does in “typical” homes. We don’t leave cookies out for Santa or put on a big production about him coming. And when it comes to toys, well it couldn’t look any less typical. My 7-year-old son has an obsession with things that are similar. [...]
young boy wearing pajamas

To the Stranger Who Gave Me 'the Look' When My Son Had a Public Meltdown

I got a look today from a woman as we were leaving the grocery store, but it wasn’t the usual look. It was a pinched smile, raised brow and sympathetic gaze of someone who, if nothing else, “got” that my boy was miserable. I was alternating hips so his headphone-wearing self wouldn’t give me a black [...]