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Old 04-21-2013, 02:42 PM   #1
mikeymouse2
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Longtime reader, first time poster...

My DS is 4 and he is a hand full...He hasn't been diagnosed with anything yet but we are in the steps to get him diagnosed. We are currently in PCIT(parent child interactive therapy), and we will be seeing an occupational therapist soon, hopefully before our trip in May/June. We are operating under the assumption that he will be diagnosed with some sort of SPD( sensory progressive disorder), but we don't know yet. He is a very sweet kid, and most of the time can be well behaved. We have made huge leaps with the PCIT. Unfortunately, in a public setting, all bets are off. We try to keep him focused on his DS, iPad, iPhone, or whatever else we can occupy his time with, but his meltdowns can be pretty bad. This will be out first trip with him, and I haven't heard mention if someone has to be diagnosed with something in order to be able to get a GAC. He exhibits all the symptoms of a child with ADHD, as he won't sit still, I just know the lines are going to be brutal. I have thought about using the stroller as a kind of confined space but when he gets out, he doesn't want to go back in. So, does anyone know if it is possible to get one without being diagnosed, or is that just something we will have to discuss with a CM when we get there. I kind of want to know before I go in order to maximize his enjoyment. Also we will be going to universal and sea world, so if you have any info about them either, that would be great. I did hear that you had to show proof(IE Dr's statement) at sea world. Is that true, or is it against an ADA law? I see all the great info you provide others, so that's why I am asking you guys since we are very new at this. Any info would help. Thank you so much!!
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:08 PM   #2
SueM in MN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeymouse2 View Post
My DS is 4 and he is a hand full...He hasn't been diagnosed with anything yet but we are in the steps to get him diagnosed. We are currently in PCIT(parent child interactive therapy), and we will be seeing an occupational therapist soon, hopefully before our trip in May/June. We are operating under the assumption that he will be diagnosed with some sort of SPD( sensory progressive disorder), but we don't know yet. He is a very sweet kid, and most of the time can be well behaved. We have made huge leaps with the PCIT. Unfortunately, in a public setting, all bets are off. We try to keep him focused on his DS, iPad, iPhone, or whatever else we can occupy his time with, but his meltdowns can be pretty bad. This will be out first trip with him, and I haven't heard mention if someone has to be diagnosed with something in order to be able to get a GAC. He exhibits all the symptoms of a child with ADHD, as he won't sit still, I just know the lines are going to be brutal. I have thought about using the stroller as a kind of confined space but when he gets out, he doesn't want to go back in. So, does anyone know if it is possible to get one without being diagnosed, or is that just something we will have to discuss with a CM when we get there. I kind of want to know before I go in order to maximize his enjoyment. Also we will be going to universal and sea world, so if you have any info about them either, that would be great. I did hear that you had to show proof(IE Dr's statement) at sea world. Is that true, or is it against an ADA law? I see all the great info you provide others, so that's why I am asking you guys since we are very new at this. Any info would help. Thank you so much!!
Sea World had been giving a discount at one point for people with disabilities.
Because that is something of value that is NOT available to the general public, they are allowed under the ADA to require proof.

You do not need a doctor's letter to get a Guest Assistance Card at the Disney parks, and in fact, they will not usually even look at one.
You do not need a diagnosis, but do need to bring your child with you to Guest Relations and explain the issues he has.
You can find more information about GACs in post 6 of the disABILITIES FAQs thread. You can follow the link in my signature to get to that thread or find it near the top of this board.

Many people find using a stroller is useful, not to confine the child actually, but to provide kind of a 'safe haven.' If he feels it is providing that for him, he is likely to want to use it.

Even with a Guest Assistance Card, it is very helpful to use one of the planning services like www.easywdw.com or www.touringplans.com
Thy can be helpful in ways a GAC can't be - like helping you to be in the least busy part of the least busy park. That will make your waits shorter and also mean less people just around between attractions.
Those can help for things like restaurants, avoiding busy bathroom and bus lines where GACs are not used.
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:39 PM   #3
marriedtodonald
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We took our 6 year old nephew last year during his spring break. He has Aspergers among a few other issues and I was a bit worried about how he would handle his first time at Disney. I read and read and read everything there was on the DIS boards about bringing children with special needs to the parks. Everyone was extremely helpful in planning....but, meltdowns were aplenty when we arrived.

First to answer your question about the GAC...I was told by several people that a doctor's note would be required at Guest Relations in order to get the pass. Doesn't have to say specifically what the child is diagnosed with....just that he/she has issues with specific things like standing in lines or being in close proximity to strangers. We had all of his info with us when I made my way to the window. The cast member did not ask for it. We were granted the pass with no difficulties whatsoever. This is not to say that they would never ask for proof, of course. I would have it available just in case. If you were to explain to the doctor the situation, I'm sure he/she wouldn't mind writing a small paragraph concerning your son's situation.

I had heard a few horror stories about the way other park patrons react to a family using a GAC. During our time there, we never encountered any rude comments or looks. The cast members were always very helpful and understanding.

Not that you asked for it, but I will tell you that we learned a very valuable lesson while trying to make magical memories for our nephew. My sister (nephew's momma), myself and my husband all at some point were so disappointed when he decided he didn't want to do anything. There were several days when we had to fight him to even leave the comfort of the room. We cried, not because of the money that we spent, but because he didn't seem to be enjoying himself. (This was his and my sister's first time at Disney.) He hated the big crowds and acted out quite a bit because he was petrified of not knowing what to expect. That was all during the first few days of our vacation. We tried to push the parks on him, which was just a big mistake. We learned to go with the flow and let him decide what he wanted to do. Turns out he wanted to swim mostly. He was happiest when playing in the pool or playing the games by the pool (we stayed at POP) with my husband. So, we came up with a solution. Mornings and early afternoons would be spent at the resort by the pool. Evenings were spent in the parks. He seemed to enjoy the parks more when it was a little less crowded and a little bit cooler. He found a few rides that were his favorites (haunted mansion and pirates) and we rode them over and over. There were a few nights when he just didn't feel up to going anywhere. My sister stayed at the resort with him once while my husband and I enjoyed time at the parks. My husband stayed with him another night while my sister and I had some girl time at the parks. In the end, it worked out fine....just had to figure out what made him comfortable. It's really a trial and error kind of thing.

Now, we thought he wasn't having a good time at all those first few days. Once we got back home, he was telling his grandparents all about the Lion King show and It's Tough To Be A Bug. That was the first day in the parks when he had a major meltdown. There were things he took away from that experience that we were afraid he wouldn't. He really surprised us! Once again, we all cried because he really did enjoy most of his time at Disney.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is....don't be upset if you feel like your son isn't getting the full pixie dust and pirates feeling from his magical vacation. Go with the flow, don't "push" the experience on him and be thankful for what he does enjoy! Again, I know you didn't ask for advice on that subject, but I felt I should share our experience with you. I hope you find it helpful! Have a magical time with your family!
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Last edited by SueM in MN; 04-21-2013 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:55 PM   #4
ibcrazie4dizney
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we were able to get one at universal also.
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