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Old 11-18-2012, 02:09 PM   #1
afoyt
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Special Needs Teens--Be aware

Having arrived home from a 4day cruise aboard the Dream. I wanted to bring to the attention of parents with Special Needs Teens, Disneys policy. I have a 14yr old son with Down Syndrome. As he is 14, he is not allowed into the supervised areas of the Oceaneers Lab. His 12yr old brother is, and even though Zach is the same size as his brother, and mentally he is around 6yrs old, he is not allowed in the Oceaneers Lab. Zach is allowed in he teen club Edge, his brother was also allowed in Edge. Edge is a lightly supervised area, where the teens are allow to come and go as they please. After talking with one of Disney's counselors, her asst. manager, then the Manager. They assigned a counselor to Zachary. Lucky, for me my 12yr old volunteered to keep an eye on his brother while in Edge. It was a good thing he did as Zachary was still able to go downstairs unaware of the Counselor assigned to him. My 12yr old noted he was missing and they found him by the icecream machine downstairs from Edge.
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:55 PM   #2
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Thank goodness for your younger son keeping an eye on his older bro. I have concerns about special needs too, as my oldest is 12 and is visually impaired. I was wondering if Disney kid clubs has any real experience with children who have special needs.
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Old 11-18-2012, 03:01 PM   #3
kristinfly2
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Thank you for posting this. We have a special needs daughter who turns 10 in a few days. We got back from our first DCL cruise two weeks ago. She had a great time in the club and the counselors were really great with her! DH wanted to wait to do another cruise in two years, but when I pointed out that she was going to age out of the club in two years, he agreed we should go once a year until then! . A DCL cruise is very expensive for us as we are a family of 8 and even though we only took the 4 youngest, we have to book two rooms. It is so worth the scrimping and saving we will be doing all year to have a vacation that all the kids will enjoy! I have no idea where we will go when Sarah ages out of the club/lab.
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Old 11-18-2012, 03:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Night Owl
Thank goodness for your younger son keeping an eye on his older bro. I have concerns about special needs too, as my oldest is 12 and is visually impaired. I was wondering if Disney kid clubs has any real experience with children who have special needs.
Our 10 yo is hearing and developmentally impaired and the counselors did a great job with her! Really kept her engaged! I did not see any visually impaired kids on our cruise so I am not sure how they will handle it.

The one area where I felt DCL really let us down was that I called DCL several times to make sure our daughters special needs were noted. I ordered the hearing impaired equipment for our room and was told there would be special equipment for her in the shows. When we got to port and I got the kids their mickey bands, there was nothing listed in her preregistration and when we got on board the equipment wasn't there. It all worked out, but I was disappointed.
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Old 11-18-2012, 03:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afoyt
Having arrived home from a 4day cruise aboard the Dream. I wanted to bring to the attention of parents with Special Needs Teens, Disneys policy. I have a 14yr old son with Down Syndrome. As he is 14, he is not allowed into the supervised areas of the Oceaneers Lab. His 12yr old brother is, and even though Zach is the same size as his brother, and mentally he is around 6yrs old, he is not allowed in the Oceaneers Lab. Zach is allowed in he teen club Edge, his brother was also allowed in Edge. Edge is a lightly supervised area, where the teens are allow to come and go as they please. After talking with one of Disney's counselors, her asst. manager, then the Manager. They assigned a counselor to Zachary. Lucky, for me my 12yr old volunteered to keep an eye on his brother while in Edge. It was a good thing he did as Zachary was still able to go downstairs unaware of the Counselor assigned to him. My 12yr old noted he was missing and they found him by the icecream machine downstairs from Edge.
It breaks my heart to hear that a child, particularly one with special needs, could be overlooked to this point. Soooo unsafe and frightening. I hope there was an acceptable apology and then some!
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:00 PM   #6
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I remember a situation a while ago where a special needs person (i believe an adult) was allowed into areas that were technically against policy (due to his age) because he was socially delayed. Something very scary happened with a young girl and there was a lot of speculation and blame being thrown around. I don't think there is really a right answer when this question comes up. I think Disney tries to stick to the rules even when it inconveniences a guest. I am sorry in this situation that the rules may have endangered the older son.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kristinfly2 View Post
Our 10 yo is hearing and developmentally impaired and the counselors did a great job with her! Really kept her engaged! I did not see any visually impaired kids on our cruise so I am not sure how they will handle it.

The one area where I felt DCL really let us down was that I called DCL several times to make sure our daughters special needs were noted. I ordered the hearing impaired equipment for our room and was told there would be special equipment for her in the shows. When we got to port and I got the kids their mickey bands, there was nothing listed in her preregistration and when we got on board the equipment wasn't there. It all worked out, but I was disappointed.
thats a shame as Disney do have signers working for them and when my friends sailed they had a signer at the shows standing at the front so she could see and understand what was going on. He also spent time with her on the ship too.
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:02 PM   #8
kristinfly2
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It was very disappointing! I have a lot of friends who used to be CMs in the parks and they had told me how great DCL was with special needs. I have heard rumors that DCL has been really cutting back on these services. That being said we all had a great time and are going to book for next year!

I agree with the other posters about keeping the age restrictions. I would not feel comfortable leaving our kids in the club with older more physically mature kids no matter what their mental age. We will just have to look for other vacation options once Sarah ages out of the clubs. I am sure I will find some great ideas on these boards. I have already gotten so much good info!
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:42 PM   #9
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DCL does excellent with special needs and requests but I don't think any cruise line provides a dedicated caretaker.
Sometimes with all the talk of pixie dust on these boards the reality doesn't match the build up.
Good heads up on tempering expectations and planning.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:29 PM   #10
kristinfly2
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Um I wasn't expecting a dedicated caregiver for my daughter. I was expecting the things the cm told me were available when I called. I just wanted to give everyone else traveling with someone hearing impaired the heads up that none of the things they told me they were going to supply were available on the magic on our sail date.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kristinfly2 View Post
Um I wasn't expecting a dedicated caregiver for my daughter. I was expecting the things the cm told me were available when I called. I just wanted to give everyone else traveling with someone hearing impaired the heads up that none of the things they told me they were going to supply were available on the magic on our sail date.
Reading this whole thread it would seem wadekind was responding generally and perhaps specifically to the OP but not specifically to you.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kristinfly2 View Post
Um I wasn't expecting a dedicated caregiver for my daughter. I was expecting the things the cm told me were available when I called. I just wanted to give everyone else traveling with someone hearing impaired the heads up that none of the things they told me they were going to supply were available on the magic on our sail date.
In a thread the responses usually are referring to the OP unless another post is quoted like I am doing to you here. Read the first post to take my response in context.

What specific equipment/things were you expecting to be supplied and how was "it all worked out" as you stated in your other post?
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:50 PM   #13
MillauFr
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My wife and I had our 11yo son with Down Syndrome on the DCL Wonder last August. We hung out in the Edge with him when they had open house hours. He loved playing and watching others play the video games. He didn't care for the more organized activities. The other times the kids could just come and go and didn't have to check in and check out. That didn't work for him as he would probably just leave and wander the ship.

He also tried the Lab but I felt nervous having him hang around younger kids. He can be pushy around smaller kids so we didn't have him hang out there. Most of the time on the ship he just hung around with us in the room. The staff on the ship were great with him but they just didn't have enough counselers to have one person watch him in the kids clubs.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:55 PM   #14
kristinfly2
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We were promised an equipment package for our room for hearing impaired guests. It included a light to know when some one was at the door, a special phone and a vibration alarm for the Bed As I stated before DCL CMs on the phone also told me there would be a sign interpreter for the shows. Her hearing impairment and developmental delays were also supposed to be noted for the CMs in the club. I called three times, faxed the form and noted it myself in the online registration.
It all worked out because we had her sleep in our room instead of in the connecting room with our three other kids who came. She also wasn't interested in the shows so that didn't become an issue.
Like I said the CMs in the club were great with her! But was also disappointed that the other equipment wasn't available. She was very disappointed that she couldn't sleep with her sisters and brother in the "kids" room. Even with the connecting doors wide open, we decided better safe than sorry.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MillauFr
My wife and I had our 11yo son with Down Syndrome on the DCL Wonder last August. We hung out in the Edge with him when they had open house hours. He loved playing and watching others play the video games. He didn't care for the more organized activities. The other times the kids could just come and go and didn't have to check in and check out. That didn't work for him as he would probably just leave and wander the ship.

He also tried the Lab but I felt nervous having him hang around younger kids. He can be pushy around smaller kids so we didn't have him hang out there. Most of the time on the ship he just hung around with us in the room. The staff on the ship were great with him but they just didn't have enough counselers to have one person watch him in the kids clubs.
My kids are much younger so maybe I just don't understand the Edge system yet, but.... I don't understand WHY for a child with special needs they couldn't simply say this 11 year old cannot check himself out and call your wave phone if he wanted to leave. Sorry. Maybe it's the teacher in me that feels the need to be FLEXIBLE and provide children with special needs what they NEED to be happy, safe, and successful.

Sorry. Done ranting now.
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