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mazz1
10-17-2007, 04:06 AM
does anyone have any tips or advice on cruising with children who have autism?

my children will be 11 and 14yrs and i'm keen for them to try out the kids clubs even if it's only the once but they will need a little extra support

i have emailled DCL but all i get back is a std reply :confused3

the needs of my youngest is simple, he is an intelligent child but he needs one person who he knows he can approach to signal that he wants to leave, and to tell him what to expect slowly and clearly, he's not a disruptive child and is aware of social boundaries and rules, he will prob just sit at the side and watch what's going on rather than be in the thick of things

we don't want him excluded just because he cannot talk comfortably to strangers and because he needs to be told in advance what's happening so he knows what to expect or is expected to do, with one designated person his needs can be met fairly simply

getting an answer out of disney is rather difficult, we have offered to pay for the extra support he needs but still no answer other than the std reply:mad:

my oldest child well that's a different matter and she will prob only go along to the teens club once with us and then sit glued to her laptop, she's a typical teen, she's highly intelligent but socially and emotionally she's at a younger age (of about 10yrs)

any experience or advice would be really helpfull and very much appreciated :)

kathy6890
10-17-2007, 08:47 AM
Please post your response from DCL when you hear from them. I'm interested in knowing too. I have a child "on the spectrum" who I'm hoping will be able to manage for short stays in the clubs. She has watched the podcasts which are on the DCL web site line- your kids might enjoy that. So my dd has a sense of the activities. We may just have to wing it- I'm planning on having her eat with us and checking on her frequently.

Although if you are able to pay for a support person I'd love that but I have a feeling that DCL won't committ to that in advance.

Have you sent any documentation to DCL from your dr's? Do you think we should do that?

Thanks and good luck!

When are you cruising?

SweetSpot
10-17-2007, 09:35 AM
This is going to be our 6th cruise on the Magic with a child with autism. We started when he was 12 and still socially very behind and very rigid when it came to rules and routine and very sound sensitive. We went in fully expecting he would never go into the club and enjoy himself but we decided to at least give the club a chance. I did had the autism noted on the reservation so that we would be seated at at table for just our family to allow us to regroup and we always ate together they weren't eating in the clubs. When we checked him into the club we were very honest with the counselors and explained his strengths and weaknesses. We let them know that we didn't expect them to disrupt the other kids activities for him and to page us whenever they needed us.

I don't think I could ever say enough about the counselors in the club. They went out of their way to include him even if it were to create an activity that allowed him to participate in a way comfortable to him. It was a wonderful week and in the end we saw great changes in him after that week. The second year when he should have been in the teen club we took him down an age and he went to the Lab again. Our first year in the teen club wasn't the greatest but we kept in contact with the counselors and they were watching out for him. The problems were more with some nasty teens on that cruise that my son didn't have the social tools to deal with. The last 2 years in the teen club have been wonderful! Last year he was upset on the last night of the cruise because he says the cruise is the only place other than home where he feels "normal".

I would go in with an open mind. The counselors are all familiar with autism as many families with special kids pick a safe place like Disney to vacation. Tell them everything they need to know about your children and let them know you will be there when needed. If your children have sound sensitivities make sure to bring ear plugs, they will be a life saver. Go over the recent navigators and menus and completely prepare them so they feel as if they know exactly what to expect.

Remember if your 14 year old can't handle the teen club you can ask to have her go to the Lab instead. My son is very tall and looks old for his age so we couldn't get away with it more than the first year but your daughter may fit right in. The teen club doesn't have many organized activities that actually happen unless there's a good turnout, it's more a social place. There's an area for video games and computer games but the kids tend to hang out and get to know each other and there's usually loud music playing. The ration of counselors to teens is low and they kids don't have to sign in and out. They also don't really want parents hanging in there ,it is the kids place to get away from adults. It never stopped me from going up to peek but didn't feel comfortable staying there long.

Our son is doing extremely well now and I truly believe one reason for that is his experiences on DCL cruises. The staff made him feel safe and welcome and never different. That allowed him to learn to be comfortable with people and better with socialization. After every cruise we have seen such great changes in him. I think you will find that the cruise will be a great vacation for the kids and a time when you and your husband will find some time to actually be alone together knowing your kids are enjoying themselves.

mazz1
10-17-2007, 09:53 AM
we're from the Uk Kathy and we're cruising 15th may 08

we doubt disney will help as they put many obstacles in the way when we wanted to parasail earlier this yr, they jumped very quickly on the stereotypical autism model and assumed my children would not understand, i did write to them but they were not interested, we parasailed at cocoa beach instead

my children will only do certain activities on the cruise as we holiday very much as a family sharing and doing things together, we expect at the very most it will be two hours time spent in the kids clubs for the entire cruise, if disney cannot support them for that then i'd be very very disappointed, the support they need is minimal and is about offering reassurance and my children knowing who to approach if they have a problem or want mum or dad

i have not sent any documentataion but i have been asked to fill in a medical clearance form from dreams unlimited, my doctor is puzzled by this as the children are fit and healthy , he's not happy with the form and it's wording and he's probably going to charge me 90 to fill one in for each child so about $360 in your money:mad:

mazz1
10-17-2007, 10:04 AM
This is going to be our 6th cruise on the Magic with a child with autism. We started when he was 12 and still socially very behind and very rigid when it came to rules and routine and very sound sensitive. We went in fully expecting he would never go into the club and enjoy himself but we decided to at least give the club a chance. I did had the autism noted on the reservation so that we would be seated at at table for just our family to allow us to regroup and we always ate together they weren't eating in the clubs. When we checked him into the club we were very honest with the counselors and explained his strengths and weaknesses. We let them know that we didn't expect them to disrupt the other kids activities for him and to page us whenever they needed us.

I don't think I could ever say enough about the counselors in the club. They went out of their way to include him even if it were to create an activity that allowed him to participate in a way comfortable to him. It was a wonderful week and in the end we saw great changes in him after that week. The second year when he should have been in the teen club we took him down an age and he went to the Lab again. Our first year in the teen club wasn't the greatest but we kept in contact with the counselors and they were watching out for him. The problems were more with some nasty teens on that cruise that my son didn't have the social tools to deal with. The last 2 years in the teen club have been wonderful! Last year he was upset on the last night of the cruise because he says the cruise is the only place other than home where he feels "normal".

I would go in with an open mind. The counselors are all familiar with autism as many families with special kids pick a safe place like Disney to vacation. Tell them everything they need to know about your children and let them know you will be there when needed. If your children have sound sensitivities make sure to bring ear plugs, they will be a life saver. Go over the recent navigators and menus and completely prepare them so they feel as if they know exactly what to expect.

Remember if your 14 year old can't handle the teen club you can ask to have her go to the Lab instead. My son is very tall and looks old for his age so we couldn't get away with it more than the first year but your daughter may fit right in. The teen club doesn't have many organized activities that actually happen unless there's a good turnout, it's more a social place. There's an area for video games and computer games but the kids tend to hang out and get to know each other and there's usually loud music playing. The ration of counselors to teens is low and they kids don't have to sign in and out. They also don't really want parents hanging in there ,it is the kids place to get away from adults. It never stopped me from going up to peek but didn't feel comfortable staying there long.

Our son is doing extremely well now and I truly believe one reason for that is his experiences on DCL cruises. The staff made him feel safe and welcome and never different. That allowed him to learn to be comfortable with people and better with socialization. After every cruise we have seen such great changes in him. I think you will find that the cruise will be a great vacation for the kids and a time when you and your husband will find some time to actually be alone together knowing your kids are enjoying themselves.


thanks for this, we were guilty of typing at the same time

i'll keep my fingers crossed that we will feel comfortable leaving them for a few hours and they will be ok

can i ask you a Q

my daughter is socially and emotionally a lot younger, do you think they will allow her in the lab with her 11yr old brother, she's almost 5'6 tall now and looking like a grown up young lady, it would be better if they can stay together

SweetSpot
10-17-2007, 01:55 PM
I don't see why she wouldn't be allowed to stay in the lab with her brother. My DD is just turning 12 and is close to 5'5" and she will fit in just fine. As long as she isn't terribly disruptive and requiring the staff to be stretched so thin that it takes time taken away from the group they are very accommodating. We have to be understanding that they can't be expected to have enough staff to be one on one with the kids at all times. If your DD socializes at a younger level, as my son did (and still does at times) I would stay away from the teen area. Not enough structure and usually only 2 counselors for all the kids. They are great counselors but teens are sneaky and can be mean without a counselor ever noticing. The Lab is very structured and when it's not they have plenty of computers and games that will keep both the kids happy. Also, the Lab has many counselors who know they need to keep a closer watch on the kids. Your children will feel very comfortable going to any of them asking for you. DCL has pagers for parents so you will be paged and immediately know that you are needed and why.

I wouldn't fill out the medical forms. Our kids aren't sick, they socialize and react different. We know our kids and what they can handle and other than that we will tell anyone who needs to be informed. I would have it noted for the dining room if the kids are more picky than others and don't like being fussed over. The dining staff is also usually familiar with autism and will be very accomodating.

mazz1
10-17-2007, 04:10 PM
I don't see why she wouldn't be allowed to stay in the lab with her brother. My DD is just turning 12 and is close to 5'5" and she will fit in just fine. As long as she isn't terribly disruptive and requiring the staff to be stretched so thin that it takes time taken away from the group they are very accommodating. We have to be understanding that they can't be expected to have enough staff to be one on one with the kids at all times. If your DD socializes at a younger level, as my son did (and still does at times) I would stay away from the teen area. Not enough structure and usually only 2 counselors for all the kids. They are great counselors but teens are sneaky and can be mean without a counselor ever noticing. The Lab is very structured and when it's not they have plenty of computers and games that will keep both the kids happy. Also, the Lab has many counselors who know they need to keep a closer watch on the kids. Your children will feel very comfortable going to any of them asking for you. DCL has pagers for parents so you will be paged and immediately know that you are needed and why.

I wouldn't fill out the medical forms. Our kids aren't sick, they socialize and react different. We know our kids and what they can handle and other than that we will tell anyone who needs to be informed. I would have it noted for the dining room if the kids are more picky than others and don't like being fussed over. The dining staff is also usually familiar with autism and will be very accomodating.

thank you so much for this information, it's good to hear and takes a lot of worry away, my daughter would be better with the children in the lab as she is vulnerable around older children, she's not disruptive and is just happy to sit and watch, it's just the reassurance part she needs extra

will they let me board without the medical forms, they sent them to me as we've been allocated an accessible room because we needed all beds at usual floor level instead of a bunk height and this was the only cabin they could offer, it was this or a cat 3 suite for a lot more $$$

my doctor is a bit huffy about the forms as he feels they are not required

atinkerbellmom
10-17-2007, 04:23 PM
Did you know we just added a sticky above with this. Since it always comes up, a past thread is now a sticky. So look above and it should be there. Mamasita one of the moderators had it added. I do not have time to reply in detail right now, but it is there.:hippie:

SweetSpot
10-17-2007, 04:27 PM
If it is a handicap accessible room they may require a medical form. I've heard people who had the room moved for others who required the room. If noone else requests the room with written medical reason it won't be a problem. I didn't know that rooms that sleep 4 without a pull down berth exsisted.

I would ask Disney directly and see if it is necessary. I've never heard of them requiring medical forms for autism.

atinkerbellmom
10-17-2007, 04:37 PM
Yes HA rooms require a medical form. All of the HA rooms on DCl sleep 3 though, none 4:sad2: They are set up just to be bigger to accomadate w/c and walkers.

The medical form can be filled out for ASD, it is just so you can arrive for dinner a little later if needed, they can get your food to you sooner if needed and for the CM in the clubs/labs. This lets them know where what staff should be to be of the most use. No 1:1 is done by DCL. If this is needed, you have to bring your own PCA or paraprofessional with you for the cruise. Sorry reply is so short, but I am running. Only stoped because of the title ASD.:hippie:

mazz1
10-17-2007, 04:39 PM
If it is a handicap accessible room they may require a medical form. I've heard people who had the room moved for others who required the room. If noone else requests the room with written medical reason it won't be a problem. I didn't know that rooms that sleep 4 without a pull down berth exsisted.

I would ask Disney directly and see if it is necessary. I've never heard of them requiring medical forms for autism.

we need all beds low to the floor as dd has some mobility issues and cannot sleep at a height, she's not on any medical treatment as the occupational therapy she needs is non existant because the therapist cannot get past the autism to work with her, she also has some difficulty with spacial awareness and a bunk would never work

we have made it clear why we need the room, she is registered disabled as are both my children and we hold a disabled badge in the UK for her with photo id so i cannot see them moving us

we would never take the room if it was not crucial for her safety and comfort

dragonflydreaming
10-17-2007, 04:51 PM
Did you know we just added a sticky above with this. Since it always comes up, a past thread is now a sticky. So look above and it should be there. Mamasita one of the moderators had it added. I do not have time to reply in detail right now, but it is there.:hippie:

Forgive my stupidity, but what is a sticky and where is it? I am looking above but see nothing. :confused:

Thanks

gottagoo
10-17-2007, 04:56 PM
I work with children of all abilities and one thing that seems to work is if they have a buddy. have you gone on the cruise meets and gotten to know some of your neighbors for the cruise? also the tip about talking with the counselor is good advice - so even though they are not giving 1:1 attention, they can keep their ears and eyes open to help out if needed. i wonder if you can be given a pager to alert you that dd is leaving (she may not need this but if she knows you are a page away she might feel more secure.)

have a great trip

atinkerbellmom
10-17-2007, 04:57 PM
It is under FAQ under "children with disabilities found under the children's activities. Sorry, I am going to jump off the boards now. I have somewhere to be at 4:30 :eek: (look at the time). I hope this helps, if not I will reply late tonight.

mazz1
10-17-2007, 05:00 PM
Yes HA rooms require a medical form. All of the HA rooms on DCl sleep 3 though, none 4:sad2: They are set up just to be bigger to accomadate w/c and walkers.

The medical form can be filled out for ASD, it is just so you can arrive for dinner a little later if needed, they can get your food to you sooner if needed and for the CM in the clubs/labs. This lets them know where what staff should be to be of the most use. No 1:1 is done by DCL. If this is needed, you have to bring your own PCA or paraprofessional with you for the cruise. Sorry reply is so short, but I am running. Only stoped because of the title ASD.:hippie:

i have emails from dreams unlimited saying that the rooms consists of one queen one sofa and one murphy bed, they said there are only two on the ship and those are 7138 & 7638

a lovely lady in the uk sent me photos of 7138 clearly showing the queen bed a sleeper sofa and a murphy bed

dreams double checked for me directly with the ship as DCl didn't know the answer about a room that slept 4 with all beds at low level, the alternative is a cat 3 and hey if they want to move me i'll be ok with the upgrade ;)

it's bedtime now for me, 10.30pm here in the uk it's dark , cold and frosty and very starry outside

goodnight all

SweetSpot
10-17-2007, 05:35 PM
we need all beds low to the floor as dd has some mobility issues and cannot sleep at a height, she's not on any medical treatment as the occupational therapy she needs is non existant because the therapist cannot get past the autism to work with her, she also has some difficulty with spacial awareness and a bunk would never work

we have made it clear why we need the room, she is registered disabled as are both my children and we hold a disabled badge in the UK for her with photo id so i cannot see them moving us

we would never take the room if it was not crucial for her safety and comfort

I never thought you were taking a room you didn't know was needed for her safety. I would think that if she has mobility issues your doctor should have no problem with filling out the forms to be on the safe side. I do understand doctors can be difficult and it's easier said than done. If you made the reservation with it clearly noted that you had a medical reason I would hope that DCL wouldn't move you from the room, even without the forms, without contacting you first.

missyoh8
10-17-2007, 06:43 PM
Last year he was upset on the last night of the cruise because he says the cruise is the only place other than home where he feels "normal".

Wow! That is the most amazing thing I have ever heard about a cruise!

Good luck to all of you! I am sure your trips will be fantastic, because you have wonderful kids, who happen to have wonderfully fantastic parents!:love:

yndygo
10-17-2007, 08:30 PM
Forgive my stupidity, but what is a sticky and where is it? I am looking above but see nothing. :confused:

Thanks

The thread atinkerbellmom is referring to is found here:
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1567951

:)
HTH

dragonflydreaming
10-18-2007, 08:15 AM
The thread atinkerbellmom is referring to is found here:
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1567951

:)
HTH

Thanks :thumbsup2

mazz1
10-18-2007, 09:53 AM
this is the response i received to an email sent to dreams unlimited about catering for children with special needs in the kids clubs whilst onboard the cruise ships




First let me assure you that Disney Cruise Line is very good at meeting the needs of everyone who sails and would never discriminate against your children and their needs. The Counselors with the Children’s Programs are very effective at meeting your needs if they understand upfront what those are.


None of the activities in these programs are mandatory and you will be able to pick and chose the activities you feel are best for your children. You will also be provided with a beeper so the Counselors can contact you whenever your children would like to leave the program and you can specify they are not to be allowed to check themselves out without your permission.



With that said, we can certainly provide DCL with this information upfront but there is no guarantee the information will get to the individual Counselors on this sailing. The best way to guarantee their needs are met is to meet with the Counselors once you are onboard, they do encourage this with all parents. This way, you will be able to communicate your children’s needs and feel confident these needs are met.


Please let e know if you have any additional questions.


hope others find this helpfull