2 Boys Point At Disabled Son In Chick-fil-A, But Mom Never Expects Them To Ask About Leg Braces

by Ann-Sophie Kaemmerle
Native New Yorker, University of Virginia graduate, runner, and sometimes stand-up performer.

Parents of special needs children can understandably be very sensitive to the stares strangers give their kids. Whispers about them make these moms and dads feel sad: the little boys and girls don’t deserve scrutiny, but sometimes people can’t help but ogle at their disabilities.

Leah Carroll is a mom who is no stranger to these stares and whispers. Her son, Malachi, is disabled and uses braces and a wheelchair. He looks different from others his age, and two boys at a Chick-fil-A noticed this when they saw him. The young boys couldn’t help their behavior, and their mother had to remind them that it wasn’t nice.

Then, she pulled an unexpected move that brought Leah to tears: she brought her sons to meet Malachi and introduce themselves. Her compassion was not lost on the mother, who posted about the experience on Facebook.

You can read her touching words in the post below.

Photo Source: Twitter / San Diego Journal

Leah Carroll and family

To the mom of three at Chick-fil-A: I sensed your panic when your 5-year-old son pointed at my son in his wheelchair and shouted “Mom, look at THAT boy!” 

You leaned forward and quietly told him and his 3-year-old brother that we don’t say things like that and they shouldn’t point or stare. But as in most cases, these suggestions are futile with young, curious minds and they continued to stare and loudly ask questions about my son’s differences. When you realized your whispers weren’t working, I saw the panic disappear and you took a deep breath and took a step of courage.


You brought your boys over to Malachi and said “I bet he would like to know your names!” As they said their names, my little Malachi started grinning from ear to ear and jabbering back to them.


The joy on his face brought tears to my eyes — he loves kids his age, but so many are fearful to come and speak to him. Your boys continued to ask questions about his foot braces, his wheelchair, why his legs don’t work, why he holds his mouth open like that. You took the time to educate your sons in that moment and help them understand that different is okay. Different is not something to fear. And that it was okay to ask questions! 

Leah and Malachi

Thank you for giving my son a chance to meet your kids. Thank you for being the type of mom who educates your children instead of frantically trying to silence them. Special needs moms have to develop tough skin — we get used to stares, comments, and whispers. Please know it takes a lot to offend us, particularly when the comments are coming from young children. 

Give your kids the same grace we give them and use the opportunity to teach them about differences. So Chick-fil-A mom, thank you for raising your children to embrace children like Malachi. And thank you for giving my son something to smile about.

Please SHARE if you know that every child is beautiful no matter how different he or she is!