Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Steve Tyler feeds a child with disabilities and the Internet explodes

Yesterday, my friend Drew shared a video that had been posted on TikTok and gone viral. Eeka McLeod has three children with disabilities, including 5-year-old Eli. Eeka had connected online with Mia Tyler, a daughter of Steve Tyler (as in, Aerosmith). Mia invited the mom and son to her little boy's birthday party, Steve Tyler befriended Eli and the rest is social media history. 

Bc I keep getting this question…here ya go!

♬ original sound - Stephen Stanley

If you are the parent of a child with physical challenges, you may know that self-feeding can be a struggle. You may also be well aware that when you feed an older child in public, it can attract gawking. And you might know that it is not something people are always willing to do, especially during these germ-cautious days. Back when Max was little, his challenges with feeding himself prevented him from going to many camps—camp directors told me staffers could not help.  

Steve Tyler seemingly had no hesitations. He put pieces of pizza right into Eli's mouth, just like a  parent would. I am not ready to declare Steve Tyler a saint but this is not something everyone would do. While the  collective "Awwwwwww" reaction does nothing to help anyone, perhaps the video will make people more aware of feeding needs, and feel less apprehensive. 

There was another person-helps-disabled-person story I read the other week in a large parents group I'm in. A mom was pitching in at her daughter's senior party. Evidently, as this girl and her friends stood around taking photos, they invited a teen with autism to join them. He had come to the party alone. He was overjoyed and later told the mom how grateful he was because, he noted, "I'm not usually included in things." The mother mentioned in her post that she thought what the group of teens did was a good example of inclusivity, which is why she was sharing what happened.

I will sum up the majority of comments: "Tears in my eyes! Beautiful story! Amazing! All the feels! A great reminder! I can't love this enough! Tears!"

Rare was the commenter who saw it the same way I did: Had the group interacted with this boy ever before in high school? That would have been inclusivity. And while it was great they were nice to him in the moment, the fact that he was so overly grateful for those few minutes of being in a group photo showed how low the bar is. 


We live in a world where gestures like this are seen as the biggest deal because: 1) Children and teens with disabilities are often not included with their peers and 2) Children and teens with disabilities are seen as people worthy of pity and kindness, not parity. 

I worry about the message these stories spread. And OMG, yes, better that this group of high schoolers did include that boy then the opposite. But better that these stories did not bring tears to people's eyes or even be worthy of posts. Better that children and teens with disabilities were just a standard part of school social life. And that is so much easier said than done to be sure. But if you are a parent reading this, you could use these stories as springboards for discussions with your children.

Why was it nice of that group of teens to include that boy with autism?

Why do you think it made that boy feel so happy? 

Would it be good if those teens were friendly to that boy at other times? Why?

Why do you think people are sometimes not so friendly to children and teens with disabilities? 

How do you think that boy would feel if those teens were always friendly to him? 


Image: Screen grab/video by Eeka McLeod


  1. I would believe that is Stephen Tyler was asked he would say he was doing what anyone would do. I would also believe he wasn't looking for it to be a viral moment. I'm sure we get stares when out eating. My 19-year-old eats his salad with a spoon and fingers. His cheese burger is eaten deconstructed with each bite dipped in ketchup. Concerning the high schoolers, I personally hate when others will "include" at a public event and then someone has to post about it. I love it when my son and I are out and about and a former (typical) classmate comes up to say hi to him. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It's very nice that the high school students included the student. But I agree with you that in an ideal world, we move to a state where these things don't go viral or don't seem unique or special - because it's just a normal and expected thing to do to include everyone. I also agree with the comment above that it would be nice if these things are also done without having to make it go viral (even if that wasn't the intention). But nitpicky aside, it was a nice gesture (regardless of what the intention was) and I wish these were more normal and expected of everyone.

  3. I know it’s a pipe dream, but…I want this to be news not because “oh, that poor boy” or “wow, what a good guy he is” but because “OMG, Steven Tyler!” Like, “how cool to have the experience of this very talented, famous dude interacting with you that way!” The same way it would be if he knelt down to tie a kid’s shoe, or helped a guy carry drinks back to his table because the cardboard tray broke halfway through there: acknowledging that what he did was helpful, but in a totally normal, “the interesting part is who helped!” kind of way.


Thanks for sharing!

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