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View Full Version : Did anyone cruise with an Autistic child???


TwingleMum
03-15-2009, 01:20 PM
One of my DS is on the spectrum. He is 5 yrs old. He is pretty high functioning but limited language. We would love to do a cruise but we are concerned. Do the kids clubs have people capable of dealing with a child on the spectrum?? Can you get a one on one ??? Thanks for the info.

squirrelgirl
03-15-2009, 03:05 PM
We have gone on 3 cruises with our son - now 9 - but we first cruised when he was 5. He is PDD-NOS/HFA. They do not provide 1-to-1, the ratios are based on each age group. We provided a brief summary of our son's triggers, strengths, strategies in our on-line registration. We also sought out the staff manager to meet and discuss his issues before even leaving him for a minute. We stayed with him the first few times he visted the club, made certain that we only left him once both he and the staff were comfortable, never left him for more than an hour without coming back in to check up on him, and when/if he did have an issue - we responded within minutes to pick him up.

We did not have him in the club during activities we felt would be to challenging, during transitions or during meals. We also avoided high capactity times. We also kept him in the age group slightly younger than his age. So while he turned 5 a few months prior to the cruise, we kept him with the 4's. For our last cruise he had turned 8 two months earlier, but was much happier in the club with the 7 y.o. children. The staff was wonderful...he had the time of his life and grew so much during that first trip. Loved it! My husband and I even were able to have dinner at Palo one night...our first dinner date out in ages!

So, not without challenges...but plan and be prepared...our first cruise was the most memorable experience ever! Your entire family should have a wonderful time.

Let me know if you have any ?s

lbgraves
03-15-2009, 03:47 PM
There is a thread with a lot of information linked in the DCL DIS FAQ thread at the top of this forum under KIDS CLUB information on Children with Disabilities. http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1567951 This might give you some details that may help you and your DS enjoy your cruise. :)

nicki.momof3
03-15-2009, 04:37 PM
Not a parent of a special needs child but I am a teacher of high school age special education students.

First, Good for you. The challenges are huge when traveling I am sure but the pay off for the child is so great. Even limited language children shine after an experience like that. I would think that a 7 day trip would be better. It would give the child a few days to get used to the environment and after a few days of what may be a rough transition you may fine that day 3-7 are easier because they are more used to what is happening. I would think that keeping the days pretty routine would be best. I wouldn't think that a bunch of different excursion would be that good - to much newness.

When you return I would share a photo journal with his teachers (maybe make one of those snapfish photobooks). It would give the teacher a great jumping board for instruction in many areas.

Enjoy

skoi
03-15-2009, 05:32 PM
Our youngest isn't autistic, but has very limited language abilities, sensory integration disorder, universal cognitive delays, and muscle/stamina issues due to hearing issues, poorly repaired cleft palate, and 3+ years in a very poor orphanage. We cruised last year after major kidney surgery, and even with all of his issues we had success in the clubs. We left him for short periods of time, and then I would check back. If he was doing fine, he stayed. They were able to deal with his issues and he enjoyed himself. I did check the navigators to make sure there was nothing that would upset him (he's really afraid of characters, all of them, though he loves all the movies), but the staff was great.

He was in the youngest age group. I don't know if the experience would be different with the older age groups.

poohlady
03-15-2009, 06:04 PM
I have 2 children with austim. We are going on our first cruise in may 2009. Iam not sure how it is going to go. My son is 19 but he really is about 5. he also has really bad sezuires. he still loves mickey. He said he wants to go on a big boat and give mickey a hug. my daugther is 17 and she delayed to . But not as much as my son. I really don't know what to expect. I think they will have fun as long as i tell them what we are going to do that day. He has to know what time and what we are going to do. then he is ok. my other daugther and her new husband are comming to help me. We all are really happy about going!!

Jennifer in MI
03-15-2009, 06:54 PM
My oldest (12) is on the spectrum - Asperger's. He is very high functioning. He's so much older than yours, I'm not sure I can offer advice. But, we would sit down every night with our oldest and go over the Navigator with him. He let us know what he wanted to do. Making his own schedule was wonderful for him!!! He was old enough that he could check himself in and out of the club. We basically let him have run of the ship. So, when he got overwhelmed, he could leave and go back to the room or go swimming or get some food. I know yours is too young to do that, but, he can always page you if he needs you.

The staff was wonderful. We never actually told them about the Asperger's because our ds knows when he's had it and had the freedom to leave when necessary. But, if there's any vacation where they can handle an autistic child, a Disney cruise is IT!!!

atinkerbellmom
03-15-2009, 08:41 PM
Thanks Lisa for posting that link. To the OP, my offer to give you more information or answer any questions still stands... :hug:

SAGE
03-16-2009, 04:51 AM
I have 2 children with austim. We are going on our first cruise in may 2009. Iam not sure how it is going to go. My son is 19 but he really is about 5. he also has really bad sezuires. he still loves mickey. He said he wants to go on a big boat and give mickey a hug. my daugther is 17 and she delayed to . But not as much as my son. I really don't know what to expect. I think they will have fun as long as i tell them what we are going to do that day. He has to know what time and what we are going to do. then he is ok. my other daugther and her new husband are comming to help me. We all are really happy about going!!

I have taken my autistic son (20 now) on several Disney cruise's. My son has good language skills however very high anxiety.

Pro's: Disney movies on tv + theatre, room service in the morning - he could have something to eat & take his med's, casual dining around the pools, he loved the evening entertainment. The pools are not deep - little less stressful with the seizures. Overall the routine was very good for him.
Con's: Dining room meals were too long for him. We did end up eating there several nights but....:scared: The best days were when we skipped it.

The first cruise, we arrived at the port around 10:15AM - didn't board til 12:00 :scared1: too long a wait. The next time we arrived at 12:30, walked right on the ship....:yay:
The muster drill with everyone crowded around him, caused significant anxiety.

With having your other daughter + son in law there, you'll have extra hands around. I was alone and took my son. It is worth the few anxious moments to see their happy faces. :hug: Your family will have a wonderful time.

kcashner
03-16-2009, 09:44 AM
One of my DS is on the spectrum. He is 5 yrs old. He is pretty high functioning but limited language. We would love to do a cruise but we are concerned. Do the kids clubs have people capable of dealing with a child on the spectrum?? Can you get a one on one ??? Thanks for the info.

The counselors are well trained in dealing with many types of special needs kids. However, one on one care is specifically NOT available.

mrstbalt
03-16-2009, 01:43 PM
We went on our first cruise on the Wonder. Our DD was 5 at the time, she too is on the spectrum with PDD. Her sister 6, was in there with her which made her more comfortable. We had let DCL know ahead of time, filled out the medical forms and spoke with the counselers when we got there. The first time we dropped them off in the club we stayed until they both were comfortable. If she or any of the kids didn't want to participate they wouldn't force them to but would check on them. She was barely toilet trained so we had to make sure she went before we left her and checked on them both every 2hrs. We are going again in December but on the Magic for 7 nights. They are both in the lab, but I contacted DCL to explain our situation and if she is not ready to be in the lab if she could move into the club with the 5/6 year olds. Not a problem, they just want her to enjoy herself. She still has social delays and lacks in expressive language. This is my kids vacation too and Disney has been pretty accomodating so far to make sure everyone enjoys their vacation. I would talk with your child and spend time with in the clubs and talking with the counselers. You can stop in at any time to check in on them. I thought I read my kids could check themselves out of the lab, but they don't know they can and will not be allowed to. They are still too young to wander a ship. Relax and enjoy

poohlady
03-16-2009, 04:18 PM
Thanks for pointing somethings out for me. I think the dining room meals are also going to be to long for them. I don't think Iam going to try it on the first night. I don't think my son will make it. We have to get up at 3:30am to make our plane. He has more seizures when he is tired. I hope he will be ok during the muster drill. as long as he is next to me he should be ok. I have taken them to disney world 2 years ago. And they loved the shows. I know they will love them on the wonder too. I could not go if my daughter and son in law didn't go with me. I just could not do it. you are right it is worth every anxious moment just to see the smile on there face. When my son smiles he lights up the whole room. He has such hard days with the seizures and side effects from the meds. I can't wait for him to see mickey and the gang. Thank again for the help. We are going to have a great time !!!

Carol (poohlady)

atinkerbellmom
03-16-2009, 04:57 PM
Thanks for pointing somethings out for me. I think the dining room meals are also going to be to long for them. I don't think Iam going to try it on the first night. I don't think my son will make it. We have to get up at 3:30am to make our plane. He has more seizures when he is tired. I hope he will be ok during the muster drill. as long as he is next to me he should be ok. I have taken them to disney world 2 years ago. And they loved the shows. I know they will love them on the wonder too. I could not go if my daughter and son in law didn't go with me. I just could not do it. you are right it is worth every anxious moment just to see the smile on there face. When my son smiles he lights up the whole room. He has such hard days with the seizures and side effects from the meds. I can't wait for him to see mickey and the gang. Thank again for the help. We are going to have a great time !!!

Carol (poohlady)

Family meals are big to us, even if the kids can not make it through them. To us it is so important. Can I suggest if you are open ordering his meal ahead of time and your appetizers ahead of time (all the night prior). They would be ready shortly after you hit the table. So once the time limit was up, then you could let him go back to the clubs and come back and enjoy the rest of your dinner. The shows are so interactive, they will be fine. Now know that there are some bubbles and stobe lights in some of the shows. Sometimes it is less impacted if you sit Mid Section. Also stay away from the middle aisles as the characters sometimes run into them which can take these guys by surprise. As for the life boat drill, if he has auditory sensory issues, do bring ear plugs. He does "HAVE TO" wear the life jacket, so a towel or familiar material around his neck may be needed. I suggest giving the drill a few minutes before leaving the stateroom. This way the wait is not as long once you get there. If your Muster station is outside, you may need to grab the sunglasses for him. When lining up, he needs to line up in front of you "WHICH is something these kidos totally ID with". If you end up in A.P or the WDT then the ear plugs for sure may be necessary.

DO read through the other thread. I placed a lot of information there. It is so detailed it has become a sticky in the FAQs. :thumbsup2

poohlady
03-16-2009, 05:29 PM
My son is 19 but his development is about 5. I don't think he will be going to the kids clubs. He is just would not fit in there. I would love to try the first night dinner. Iam just going to wait and see how he is doing. I think he will be ok with the life jacket on. There is alot of things we can do. He loves to play bingo. We are going to try that. thank you for telling me about the lights in the shows. That is very helpful. He is very social for being austistic. I really think he is going to have a great time seeing all the people on the ship. and seeing all the disney on the ship. Thanks again

TwingleMum
03-19-2009, 08:34 PM
Thanks Lisa for posting that link. To the OP, my offer to give you more information or answer any questions still stands... :hug:

Thanks so much for the offer. I got bogged down with work and life and couldn't post till now. I'm worried b/c he is very non verbal and is currently in an 8-2-1 ABA class (there are 3 more aides in the class so its close to 1 to 1) I don't want to burden his brothers (its their vacation too) with watching him in the clubs. I'm really worried about elopement. He eats by himself but would probably not go up and get his own food. (he gets his own juice cup and snacks at home from the frig) I would not just dump and run. We would check every hour or so and probably only leave him there for short amounts of time (maybe during an adult meal ~ OMG to even think about having a meal alone ...) Its scary to think about him climbing up on the rails :scared1: