View Full Version : Anyone experience of ASD @ Disney & on flight

08-21-2009, 03:53 AM
We're hoping to go to Florida next year, November I think to include the free dining. My boy will be nearly 5 and he has Autism so I was just wondering if anyone had any tips/advice for the parks and also the flight. He does not (at the minute) "do" visual timetables, the mere sight of them sends him crazy so I'm planning on showing him planes programmes of people going on holiday on planes and a couple of trips to the airport maybe beforehand. We're planning on travelling with Virgin as on previous trips they've always been the best (although it's 11 years since I last went so welcome any other opinions)

What provisions (if any) would be made for the flight, he's likely to freak when we get on board so would they board us first to calm him down or last so that we get underway pretty quick?

We've taken him to DLRP which he likes and copes well with, he's verbal but generally in just a repeating sense so he does still use some pecs which we take with us and we get the easy access card so that watching the parade etc is easier, queues are not too bad, though the pushing and shoving at DLRP can get stupid so we obviously avoid those areas

Right, now I'm rambling so I'll shut up and hope for some suggestions:goodvibes

08-21-2009, 05:53 AM
My first advice would be to contact Virgins special assistance dept. They will be able to help you in all sorts of ways - for example boarding the plane first (or last - whichever works best for your son), checking in using PE lane so as to minimise the time he is expected to be stood around waiting. They may even be able to seat you close to the exit so as to make disembarking easier for you. All this has been offered to us for help with our son.
I would also suggest you pop over to the disabilities section of the Dis. There are lots of people there who are in the same position as yourself, and who have been there and learnt the best way to do things and what help Disney/Universal can offer you.
Hope you find all the information you are after, and please feel free to PM if you would like any further help.

08-21-2009, 06:28 AM
hi my joshua is now 8 and also has asd we have been going to orlando since he was 1 virgin are excellent contatc there special assistence department they let us check in in the pe queue to minimise queing at airport, they board us first so he can get settled and used to the plane before the hoards get on we usually get seated in the small cabin at the front behind pe a little quieter for him, and they also do him a special meal as at present he will only eat nuggets or pizza so that's what they give him to eat, can't praise the special assitance department enough.

08-21-2009, 07:02 AM
I think I read somewhere recently that Manchester Airport have produced a travel leaflet for parents whose children have ASD, ADHD and similar conditions / health problems to help the children and parents cope at the airport and on flights it could be worth contacting them about these leaflets if they still have them.

08-21-2009, 07:45 AM
There is a PDF file that you can download from the Manchester Airport site. The link is below - but just in case in doesnt work load the site then search the site for autism.


08-21-2009, 08:44 AM
my son has HFASD, we take ear mufflers for excess sound, DS (he likes his DS!) load last, but never seem to get off first:confused3.
we go to the right hand lane through customs - its quicker...
go onto the disabilities thread and find out about the GAC it will help alot, i promise.
if you have a blue badge, take it with you, again, will be a great help.
VH have always been v good, they are v experienced and always said "what can we do to help?" and they did help, ds had a sore throat so they gave him ice cream;) my other 2 were green!!!
good luck, i hope you have a great holiday xx

08-21-2009, 09:00 AM
Thank you very much everyone, you've given me loads of help & info. I'll definately contact Virgin to ask what they can suggest. I do think boarding him first would be best and I'll check out the area near PE to see if it would be a good place for him to be & I never even thought about food so that's definately something I'll have to consider - he only drinks milk and apple juice at present so even that's something to check that they could do. I'll make a list of all your suggestions and will pop over to the disabilities section, I wanted to ask here to get an idea from the UK perspective & I'll have a look at Manchester airport too, nevr thought of that! I'm taking it that when you say the PE queue, that's the premium economy queue right?

Anyone taken a maclaren major with them, I hear with the GAC it would be treated like a wheelchair, which would be really useful

Gosh, more planning to do, I'll have to start another list!

08-21-2009, 10:18 AM
Hi - some good advice so far.

Our son Joshua is 12 and autistic/non verbal, we have taken him to Florida about 7 times now.

Virgin special assistance are helpful, you should I assume qualify for a bulkhead seat which will give you that extra leg room - these days we upgrade to Premium Economy for a few reasons but naturally adds unwelcome costs to the overall price.

Since we started taking a portable DVD player, he is a TV addict, it has helped us incredibly on the long flight. We couldn't travel without it now and keeps him entertained for a good part of the flight, we have batteries for 12 hours of use :)

We took a MacLaren oversize stroller (may have been called 'Major') but now use a wheelchair as he just cannot walk long distances.

I wouldn't say it was a replacement for a wheelchair, not because of any limitations when using your GAC, just a CM 'awareness' issue really - I have found Joshua gets noticed more (and treated slightly better) since we used the w/chair.
Probably because Joshua doesn't appear disabled when you see him.

kevin harrison
08-21-2009, 10:18 AM
My nearly three year old son is on the spectrum also, as well as this he eats and drinks nothing, cannot walk or talk and has to be fed through his gastrotomy tube via a pump.

In September we are flying with Virgin for the first time since having Daniel. I have to say they have been very good assisting us with the planning. They won't guarantee seating, but have told us that because of his needs, we should have good seats on the plane in a quiet area.

I would advise you that if you have meds, make sure you have letters for it all. There is no way Daniel's meds are going in our luggage in case it gets lost. Last year when we travelled to Florida with First Choice, because of all the doctors letters we had, all was fine.

kevin harrison
08-21-2009, 10:22 AM
I have found Joshua gets noticed more (and treated slightly better) since we used the w/chair.
Probably because Joshua doesn't appear disabled when you see him.

This is the problem, Autism is known as the "invisible disability" and I have found that people are generally unaware of what ASD is about.

08-21-2009, 10:37 AM
This is the problem, Autism is known as the "invisible disability" and I have found that people are generally unaware of what ASD is about.

i agree, its a massive issue, in as much as the spectrum is massive too. when you have met 1 child with asd , you have met 1 child with asd. each one is very different. we are "lucky", josh walks talks and "eats" normally (he ll eat like a horse if he likes it, for some strange reason he likes airplane food:confused3 we always buy a sandwich for him from boots just in case, the first time he refused to eat anything from the "tray" and 9 hours and a few tracker bars later i was ripping my hair out:confused3

If you are concerned about this being an issue in disney can i suggest the autism awareness t shirts disigned on the disigner boards? we wore them every day (different t shirts same theme :rotfl2:) we had no issues with CM or guests, in fact many people approached us to ask where they could be brought! it avoided questions, and cms in suits (esp stitch as hes joshs fav) were prepared for a possible abnormal reaction.

i ll be printing tees again this year for our trip. even our flying t shirts had autism mickeys on the sleeves.
take care

08-21-2009, 10:47 AM
We took a couple of 'autism awareness' type t-shirts for our theme park days, they got the message across as well as having nice designs also.

Little boy with a puppy for example, or similar. Maybe they help people understand a little more without being a bit too over the top.

kevin harrison
08-21-2009, 10:56 AM
If you are concerned about this being an issue in disney can i suggest the autism awareness t shirts disigned on the disigner boards? we wore them every day (different t shirts same theme :rotfl2:) we had no issues with CM or guests

I could not care less what other people think and woe betide anyone that bothered me questioning me about Daniel.

There is no chance I am walking around advertising my son is disabled. It's just not for me.

Regarding characters - I just keep my wits about me and if needs be I whisper in the characters ear, wasn't a problem last year.

08-21-2009, 12:12 PM
I have a Niece (6) and Nephew (17), both with forms of Autism.

Both have never been on a plane before but they would like to, the only "problems" I can see them having is that my Niece has trouble with loud and unexpected noises (even if she makes them herself), and both would have an issue with how chlorostrophobic it can get on the plane when everybody gets out of their seat at the end of the flight.

We found that role-play games such as recreating the plane enviroment (with dining table chairs in rows for the seating, using travel cases for them to bring "onboard" etc...) was a good way of introducing them into what to expect.

Now call me crazy, but I believe there is a CD available somewhere which has recordings from planes so you can hear the engine sounds and the "bing bongs" :)

08-21-2009, 03:56 PM
Thank you for more suggestions, I knew I'd come to the right place! The DVD player would be a brilliant idea as my DS is also a TV addict and he watches the same things over and over and over (thank goodness for Sky+) and will endlessly repeat programme episodes word for word (we're getting used to it but I guess the people on the flight might get a tad bored) I'll have to look into battery life for them and see how we'd go along with that - wasn't sure if they'd be allowed on the flight but knowing they are makes me feel a little better about the flight as I know he'd spend lots of time watching it.

I think the most stressful bit for him will probably be getting on the plane and having to sit there a while, but when we took him to DLRP last year we travelled on the train which he was scared of but after an initial uneasyness I took a few new toys to interest him and his DVD player and he slept quite a lot of the way so it went a lot better than expected so I guess he might surprise us and sail through the flight, but better to be prepared for the worst.