Parents who have been to Disney World with young children- HELP?
We have been saving money for a long time to go on vacation with the kids. I’m just found out I’m pregnant with twins, and as I’m not very far along yet, we thought now would be a good time to go, otherwise we’ll have to wait a while.
I want to go somewhere that will be fun for us all. We thought of Disney World as it is known for being child-friendly. I have a 7 year old son and a 4 year old daughter. But here’s the catch… the boy has autism, and the girl has Rett Syndrome. The boy functions at immediate levels (such as speech, human interaction, etc) at the level of about a 3 year old- according to his therapist anyway. He is very good with animals, and LOVES animals, especially elephants and Dumbo, the Disney film. And he can sometimes seems much older than his age, with things that he says which are quite inciteful. He’s a people-watcher, and is very observant. He does not like large crowds and lots of noise, but as long as we could have a quiet spot for us to escape to once and a while, he would be fine.
The girl will be in a wheel chair as she cannot walk, and she also cannot talk. She functioning at the level of a 5 month old baby, again this is according to specialists, but I would argue she understands more than she can tell us. She also has watched Disney movies.
So, long story short, we need this place to be actually child-friendly. Of course the website says it is. But I don’t know anyone who has been, so I was wondering if any parents who have taken young children to Disney World can tell me if it was fun… was it worth it? Or should we wait until the twins are older and take them all? The thing we’re really worried about is that as the older 2 get older, they may not become less “disabled”, and we might never have another chance to go on vacation again with these 2 anyway. (Of course if the twins end up being fine– which we hope and pray they will be– then we will try to give them normal childhood experiences).
So any thoughts about Disney World with small children would be greatly appreciated.
PS/ Please don’t tell me not to bring more retarded children into the world. I have heard that many times before, and I do not need to hear it again. My children are not retarded. They are wonderful human beings, and regardless of what you think, I promise you, I am doing my absolute best to ensure that they are the most productive people they can be. Thank you for your consideration (as this question isn’t about what you think of my family).
Oh my God, there’s this book I have that you MUST get! It’ll be perfect for you and your family. It’s called PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy-Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges (by Deb Wills and Debra Martin Koma). You can find it on Amazon or at Border’s, Barnes & Nobles, etc. It’s “the ultimate sourcebook for Disney World visitors with unique problems and needs.” It has sections for ADHD, addiction recovery, allergies & asthma, autism, chronic fatigue, cognitive disabilities, dieting, fears, foreign language, hearing, heart health, infants, medical treatment, mobility, motion sensitivity, physical therapy, pregnancy, seniors, size, and vision. It really would be the perfect book for you, I think.
Here’s part of the autism section…
“Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Remember to plan, but be flexible. Have some structure to your days, but also retain the flexibility to change at the last minute if needed. Read and learn about Walt Disney World, and develop a plan before your trip.
Reader Tip: “Make sure to schedule an off day. I always build in a day where we stay in the room, go to the pool, and just relax.”
As you begin to plan, watch Disney movies and the vacation planning DVDs. These slowly introduce your traveler with ASD to Disney characters, parks, and resorts. Remember, the characters are large and can be imposing in the parks. Introduce your ASD traveler from a distance. Prepare them with stories, talk about the parks, and show pictures.
UPON YOUR ARRIVAL
Keep your regular routine. If your traveler who has ASD is normally up at 7:00 am, then that’s when you should get up (you may want to adjust this to reflect your home time zone). If they are used to eating at specific times, do your best to keep that schedule.
Use FASTPASS at the parks — we can’t stress this enough. It will significantly reduce the time you wait in line! One important note, however — some with ASD will not understand why they got in line to get a FASTPASS and then left without riding (the FASTPASS gives you a specific time to come back, such as between 3:00 and 4:00 pm). Have one member of your group get all the FASTPASSES.
Be sure all members of your party know that once they are seated in a ride, they must stay seated until the ride is fully completed. They cannot stand or exit until the ride is over and fully stopped. In theater settings, sit at the end of a row in case you need to make a quick exit.
At character meet and greets, show the attending cast member your Guest Assistance Card, if you have one. Ask if you can wait your turn in the shade or away from the crowd.
Ask the Cast Member outside each attraction about noise levels, ceiling fans, flashing lights, or other potential problems. Also ask for seating recommendations. If you want to be near an exit, be the first to go down the row in the theaters.
Reader Tip: “Many autism spectrum children are sensory-seeking, not just defensive. I’ve traveled with two very different autism spectrum kids and, for both, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was their favorite. Your child’s limitations should guide you.”
Manipulations found in certain areas of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot can provide wonderful tactile stimulation.
Having dinner in the parks or resort? If it won’t disrupt your routine too much, eat early (around 4:00 pm) so you don’t have long waits.”
The women who wrote this book also have a vacation planning website, www.allears.net.
It has a special section also dedicated to families with children who Autistic Spectrum Disorders…
ASD General FAQ — http://allears.net/pl/dis_aut.htm
ASD First-Hand Report — http://allears.net/pl/dis_aut3.htm
ASD Other Reader Experiences — http://allears.net/pl/dis_aut4.htm
ASD Tips — http://allears.net/pl/dis_aut2.htm
Here’s a few links to some other sections that you may find helpful…
Mobility Disabilities — http://allears.net/pl/mobility.htm
Wheelchair/ECV FAQ — http://allears.net/pl/ecv_faq.htm
Animal Kingdom in a Wheelchair — http://allears.net/tp/ak/akjrms.htm
Epcot in a Wheelchair — http://allears.net/tp/ep/e_dis.htm
Also, here’s the link to the Walt Disney World website where you can order a free vacation planning DVD. It’ll be great to watch with the kids so they can see what they’ll be experiencing and prepare them for the trip…
I wouldn’t let ANYTHING stop you from taking your kids to Walt Disney World. They’ll absolutely LOVE it! The Cast Members (employees) are so amazing and helpful, they’ll do everything in their power to make your stay as magical as possible, and they’re always there to help.
Hope I could help! Have a magical time! ºoº