Many families take vacations and travel to have fun and relax. However, for the Mcleod Family, it is something even more special. Eeka Mcleod has three children: Eli, Evan and Ella, and all of them have special needs. Before the COVID-19 pandemic happened, the Mcleod family would take weekly trips to Disneyland.
The weekly McLeod family trips to Disneyland aren’t just for only the kids' entertainment. To Eeka, these trips have helped her kids with disabilities develop their communication skills, especially young Evan. Evan has microcephaly, autism and development delays. Speech for Evan has been a challenging thing for him. Eeka told a reporter “His motivation to speak came from our weekly Disneyland days’’. Whenever they have their weekly trips to Disneyland, Evan wanted to be able to tell his mom what toys he wanted to buy or what rides he wanted to go on, what characters he wanted to see and what treats he wanted to eat.
Eeka noticed how Evan would mimic some of the Disney characters movements to better communicate with his Mom. But whenever Eeka doesn’t understand what her son is asking for, she’ll “ask him to show me and most of the time he’s able to.” Eeka largely thanks all of the Disney character actors and Disneycast members at Disneyland.
Since Eeka’s family has been frequent visitors of the parks for years, many of them know Evan and know how to properly engage him when he’s feeling overstimulated. Recently, one of Evan’s touching interactions with Disney princess Ariel went viral on TikTok with 11.5 million views and 3.3 million likes. In the video, Evan felt overwhelmed, but Ariel, who is aware that Evan has autism, successfully re-captures his attention and enlivens him. She does this all while staying in character. Eeka said that “Ariel was fantastic!”
She loved how they treated Evan normally and made sure they had a wonderful time at the park. It was one of the best moments for Eeka. The love and appreciation in this story shows how everyone communicates differently but that doesn’t mean we can’t connect to each other.
Link to the viral TikTok video: https://www.tiktok.com/foryou?lang=en#/@californiadisneyfam/video/6904723453912370437