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4-year-old boy with autism who likes to wear dresses befriends Disneyland characters

Disney characters befriend boy with autism

Four-year-old Evan McLeod has autism — and the sunny disposition of a Disney character. Evan's mom, Eeka Rocha McLeod, knows how much her son loves the magical characters of Disney. So the Orange, California, mother takes him to Disneyland every single week.

Evan was adopted out of foster care and has experienced many complications. His birth mother was addicted to drugs and he was born prematurely, McLeod told CBS News. In addition to autism, Evan was diagnosed with microcephaly "and global developmental delays," McLeod said.

"His muscles are weak, he's only begun talking recently and still struggles with speech, and his social interactions are always a little unique," his mom said. 

Because the family goes so often – and Evan's mohawk is hard to miss — many of the actors that work at Disneyland recognize him. "Not all of them know him, but quite a few do," McLeod said. "The cast members know him as well. And don't judge me, but the restaurants and churro cart vendors definitely know." 

The mom shares photos and videos of her kids' interactions with the Disney employees on Instagram. Evan has befriended several "princesses" who will hold his hand and walk him around. He's often seen twirling and dancing with characters, too.

Evan also likes to wear dresses. He first asked to wear a dress in June, when his family was getting ready for their weekly Disneyland trip. "I thought at first he was confused, so I kept showing him the knight outfit and he was adamant that he wanted Snow White," McLeod said.

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The first time I heard another child tell my son he was weird and to get away from her my heart shattered. He is autistic and has microcephaly. I have been through some hard times, but in that split second I felt devastation like I’ve never known before. And for a moment (just a moment) I wished that he wasn’t “different.” ••• Everyday I watch my children face challenges most of us will never understand. As their mom all I can do is love, encourage, and support them in a world that often tells them they’ll never be fully accepted by society. Being your true authentic self isn’t always easy, but my children are WORKIN’ IIITTTTT *snap snap*! I teach them to love one another and to always always ALWAYS practice kindness even in the face of adversity and hatred. ••• It’s also Pride Month and I thought this video and photo were fitting since Evan is not only rocking that Snow White princess dress like the true queen that he is, but also completely owning his authentic self! Let’s celebrate our differences instead of using them as weapons against one another (just like Evan is doing in his sparkly dress). Love is love ✊🏽❤️🧡💛💚💙💜✊🏽 ••• Edit: A BIG thank you to CM Megan from Oakland for helping to create some of these amazing memories for Evan and the rest of us 🙌🏽💕 ••• Edit 2: For all those who have an issue with this, you are more than welcome to block, unfollow, or simply leave my page. Take that negativity someplace else. And for all the people unfollowing me because I posted this...girl, BYE 👋🏽 . . . . . . . #disneyland #disneyparks #autism #specialneeds #disneyfamily #disneylandresort #disneyside #disneyaccount #disneykids #disneymom #happiestplaceonearth #disneyblogger #disneyaddict #disneymagic #annualpassholder #ilovedisney #disneyphotography #disneycommunity #pride #pridemonth #happiestplace

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McLeod let her son dress up like a Disney princess, and he's worn dresses and tutus to the park ever since. 

"It didn't take long for me to realize that Evan's way of thinking and behaving wasn't so different from most children," McLeod wrote in an Instagram caption, showing Evan in a princess costume. "The only real difference is he tosses a whole lotta FABULOUS into everything he does."

The mom admitted on Instagram that she has caught some flack for letting her son wear dresses. However, she's continued to share photos of Evan on social media, hoping to show others every child and their differences should be accepted.

"Whether it's a major diagnosis, an obsession with unique fashion... mistakes, setbacks, milestones, all of it! As a parent, I choose to encourage confidence and kindness because that's what ultimately makes the difference in the lives and hearts of kiddos like mine," McLeod wrote in one Instagram post.

Fortunately for Evan, the characters at Disneyland don't judge him or shun him for wearing a dress, McLeod said.

"Every single character and cast member interaction has played a pivotal role in his development," she said. That's why McLeod takes her three kids, all of whom have special needs, to the magical amusement park every week.

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Ok so if I’m being 100% real with y’all I gotta tell ya, when Evan was first diagnosed as autistic I freaked. I couldn’t figure out why I was so upset. All my children have special needs so why was this different, right? And then I realized that in my mind autism meant that my son would never live a “normal life.” Truth be told, I was absolutely devastated. It took me a hot minute to pull my sh!t together and accept our new reality. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Evan’s way of thinking and behaving wasn’t so different from most children. The only real difference is he tosses a whole lotta FABULOUS into everything he does 😉 I’ve taken some flack for allowing him to wear dresses (HE asks for AND chooses them, not me), but here’s my stance on that...I want Evan and all my kids to know that they are loved and accepted for who they are and will always be. Whether it’s a major diagnosis, an obsession with unique fashion(or tacky, we’ve all been there), mistakes, setbacks, milestones, all of it! As a parent, I choose to encourage confidence and kindness because that’s what ultimately makes the difference in the lives and hearts of kiddos like mine. If nothing else, I hope Evan’s courage and joy encourage you to go out and own your most glamorous self ✊🏽🙌🏽 [A BIG thank you to the CM’s at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for being so kind to my extra special boy!] . . . . . . . #happiestplace #disneyfamily #disneykid #disneymom #disneyannualpassholder #disneyfans #disneylandforever #disneyparks #disneyside #disneyaccount #disneykids #happiestplaceonearth #disneyblogger #disneyaddict #disneyigers #disneylandresort #disneygram #ilovedisney #disneycommunity #annualpassholder #disneylandcastandcommunity #bibbidibobbidiboutique #glamorouslife #autismwarrior #abc7eyewitness

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Evan even got his makeup done at the park's Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. "If nothing else, I hope Evan's courage and joy encourage you to go out and own your most glamorous self," McLeod wrote on Instagram, sharing a video of her son's makeup session.

The mom said she likes to call Evan "magically gifted" — which helps him fit right in with the Disney characters, who are always there to help celebrate magical moments with him.

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