Octavius and his mother, Shatika Dixon, are used to getting strange looks when they go out together. You see, Octavius was born with a hearing impairment, so the mother and son communicate with each other through sign language.
“Everybody thinks we’re crazy when we’re out talking and we’re signing,” Shatika said.
That’s why what two waitresses did for them recently at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant meant so much to them.
Octavius had gone to the restaurant with his mother and uncle to celebrate his fourth birthday. As they sat at the table enjoying their meal, waitress Kathryn Marasco noticed them signing to each other.
“I’m sitting there and I’m watching from a distance, and the mom is signing to the little boy which is when I noticed he had his hearing aids,” she said.
Kathryn knew one of the other waitresses, Brandie White, was enrolled in a speech-language pathology and audiology class at Middle Tennessee State University and asked her if she knew how to say “Happy Birthday” in sign language.
While Brandie wasn’t quite sure how to sign the message, she knew it would be easy to figure out. She grabbed her phone and looked up a tutorial online.
“[Brandie] comes up to me and says, ‘Kat, I found a YouTube video of how to sign happy birthday,'” Kathryn recalled.
The pair watched the video and quickly memorized how to sign the words. Then they made their way over to Octavius’s table to surprise him.
After watching the girls sign the special message, Octavius was grinning from ear to ear.
While it may have seemed like a small gesture to Kathryn and Brandie, for Octavius and Shatika it meant the world. Most people give them strange looks when they sign back and forth, but these young women took the time to learn how to “speak” back.
“It’s really important to me that someone noticed that and picked up on that and made that special just for him, my baby,” Shatika said.
She added that this was the first time Octavius had communicated in sign language with anyone other than herself or his teacher, so it was truly an incredible milestone and an overwhelming gesture.
When asked about it, though, Brandie humbly said it was all in a day’s work.
“As a server I want you to be able to come in, I want to be like, ‘Oh this is my home. I belong here,'” she said.
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