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Old 02-17-2011, 10:36 AM   #1
DZNEE4US
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Child w/ Autism and considering a Disney Cruise

My son is 3 years old and has Autism. He is not severly affected (we are blessed in that way), but he has his sensory issues. He doesn't love the airplane, but we manage it with distractions and snacks. We have been to WDW with him 3 times. I was wondering if any parents with Autistic children have been on a Disney cruise. Any tips? He only drinks Very Vanilla Silk brand soy milk, and I am very worried about him getting this onboard, as well as the VERY limited about of other foods that he will eat. Unfortuantely with all of the travel regulations it gets difficult to travel with fluids. I have seen the juice box style of silk boxes at Walmart, and we have used those for short trips. I could potentially put them in a suitcase, or even have a box shipped (maybe we will do a WDW for a few days first- trip). Any cruising ideas for us? We also have an 8 year old daughter and another 3 year old son (a twin).
Thanks for your help!!!
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:39 PM   #2
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We choose not to do a cruise, as I didn't feel that it was appropriate for my DD7 and her issues. But that's just us. I did a lot of research about what exactly the kids do during their day, and it just wouldn't work out for us.

As for Disney and special diets/allergies, I think that you will find a LOT of information here about how Disney has really done a great job transforming their facilities to accommodate a number of different allergies, etc. On our most recent trip, my DD was eating GF/CF and I really was very impressed with how they took care of her dietary issues.

I did pack a box of food, shelf stable milk, snacks, GF bread/bagels, etc so that I would have plenty of choices just in case. I also ordered from Garden Grocery, as they were able to deliver right to our room the refrigerated items. (We stayed in a villa so had a kitchen). Garden Grocery DOES have a lot of those speciality items. You could also order from WeGoShop.com and request them to go to a place like Whole Foods to get the products that you need.

HTH!
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Old 02-17-2011, 01:06 PM   #3
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Whenever we go to WDW we usually rent a home or condo and drive to the parks. We need 1- a kitchen and a refridgerator (for the picky eaters), and 2- the space to move!! This arrangement gives us the most flexibility to accomodate everybody.
I see you have triplets!! I have twins (one w/ Autism).
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Old 02-17-2011, 02:06 PM   #4
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We're sailing on the Dream on March 10, with our 8 year old son who has Asperger's/ High Functioning Autism and multiple food allergies. This is our second Disney cruise- the first was on the Wonder, when our son was 4. Our experience then was that he found the Oceaneer's Club too overwhelming because he is also sensory-sensitive. However, he still LOVED the cruise! We took him swimming early in the morning when it wasn't crowded, avoided the fireworks and sail-away party, took him to see the characters during meal-times when there were zero lines, looked for Hidden Mickeys, took nature walks around Castaway Cay, etc.- we all had a great time! You know best what your child can handle, and so I think you could still have a wonderful vacation on a Disney cruise- it just might be slower-paced and require more togetherness. :-)

Having said that, we are going to give the Oceaneer's Club on the Dream a try on our upcoming cruise, now that our son is older, so I can give you a full report when I get back. We plan to take our son out of the Club every two hours for a sensory break.

We also plan to feed him when we take him out of OC, because I don't want to risk him being fed something by the Club counselors that will trigger an allergic reaction. The food issue is a big one with us, as our son has MANY food allergies, and on two separate trips he was fed something allergy-contaminated at WDW, despite our filling out special diet forms weeks in advance. We were told by the Special Diets that we could bring sealed, pre-packaged food (nothing homemade) on board the ship for our son, and that's what we intend to do. We are still going to try having the chefs prepare some meals for him in the sit-down restaurants, BUT we are stopping at the Whole Foods in Orlando before the cruise, and bringing enough allergy-free food for him to eat just in case they can't accommodate him, or the wait for his food is too long.

I'd be happy to do a trip report when we get back, if you like.

Hope that helps!
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Old 02-17-2011, 04:27 PM   #5
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Thanks for all of your information, particularly about the food issues. My son doesn't have allergies that I know of. He just eats only a very limited number of foods. Is travel so much fun??? It's hard enough for typically developing kids/ people, let alone anyone w/sensory issues.
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Old 02-18-2011, 10:57 AM   #6
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Hi there! We did the three night cruise on the Wonder at the end of last summer with our DS5 (PDD-NOS/ADHD) and DD2. DS is crazy about numbers and maps, and had a fantastic time exploring the ship with all of the different decks (maybe not what your typical kid would find fascinating, but what can you do?) We also had a great time in the pools and at Castaway Cay. He attended the kids club in the evening for a few hours on the second and third night to let us have "date night". He did ok, but we minimized the time spent there as he kind of just did his own thing. DS only drinks chocolate soy milk, (preference, not allergy), and the dining room staff were very good about getting it to us for all of the restaurant meals. Not sure on what kind they stock on the ship...

We had a great family vacation, so much so that we're going again on the Dream at the end of this summer. It's not for everyone, and that was one reason why we booked the short cruise for our first time out- we wanted to make sure that the kids enjoyed it. Hopefully we'll get to do more of the on-board activities this time out- I know that DS is really excited about the mini-golf (all of those numbers)
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Old 02-18-2011, 11:34 AM   #7
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We have a 13 year old autistic daughter

And we are doing our first cruise this sept on the dream. I know i cant put her in any of the clubs. She has in the past become aggressive with crying children,
So my son willdo the clubs with the kids and me and her will do what we can, together.

Fingers crossed. Lol
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:34 PM   #8
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We went on a Disney Cruise and had a fear that we would get sea sick. Knowing that they did not have ginger ale on the ship, we stopped at Public's grocery store which is close to the ship, and picked up a case of ginger ale as well as a case of bottled water. We were able to take both liquids on the ship with no problem. So you should be able to take the soy milk on board with you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DZNEE4US View Post
My son is 3 years old and has Autism. He is not severly affected (we are blessed in that way), but he has his sensory issues. He doesn't love the airplane, but we manage it with distractions and snacks. We have been to WDW with him 3 times. I was wondering if any parents with Autistic children have been on a Disney cruise. Any tips? He only drinks Very Vanilla Silk brand soy milk, and I am very worried about him getting this onboard, as well as the VERY limited about of other foods that he will eat. Unfortuantely with all of the travel regulations it gets difficult to travel with fluids. I have seen the juice box style of silk boxes at Walmart, and we have used those for short trips. I could potentially put them in a suitcase, or even have a box shipped (maybe we will do a WDW for a few days first- trip). Any cruising ideas for us? We also have an 8 year old daughter and another 3 year old son (a twin).
Thanks for your help!!!
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:47 AM   #9
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Thanks for the tips about the liquids. I didn't know what their policies were, since air travel has become so crazily constricted about what you can carry on board. I am thinking I may wait until my son is older (he's only 3 and 1/2 now), and develops better language skills. Wouldn't it be great if they had a sailing esp. for kids w/ Autism? I know I am excluding other disabilities, but maybe they could also have their own dates. They could have different sensory areas for the kids, and do activities that would better suit them, and for once give the parents some time away from ASD!!!!!!!
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Old 02-25-2011, 02:12 PM   #10
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DS11 has Aspergers and we have taken him on four cruises, two on RCCL and two on DCL. He has really enjoyed himself on all of them. There is a great variety of food options and the cast with do everything they can to accomodated you.
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Old 02-25-2011, 02:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DZNEE4US View Post
Wouldn't it be great if they had a sailing esp. for kids w/ Autism? I know I am excluding other disabilities, but maybe they could also have their own dates. They could have different sensory areas for the kids, and do activities that would better suit them, and for once give the parents some time away from ASD!!!!!!!
There actually are group cruises just for autism families, and I think (not totally sure) that Disney does participate in some of them!

We're cruising on the Dream in less than two weeks - booked through Autism on the Seas- so I can report back if their extra services were helpful.
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjatwdw View Post
DS11 has Aspergers and we have taken him on four cruises, two on RCCL and two on DCL. He has really enjoyed himself on all of them. There is a great variety of food options and the cast with do everything they can to accomodated you.
Were you able to leave him by himself with CMs? Or did you have to supervise?

Trying to get a sense about how well trained they are...
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DZNEE4US View Post
My son is 3 years old and has Autism. He is not severly affected (we are blessed in that way), but he has his sensory issues. He doesn't love the airplane, but we manage it with distractions and snacks. We have been to WDW with him 3 times. I was wondering if any parents with Autistic children have been on a Disney cruise. Any tips? He only drinks Very Vanilla Silk brand soy milk, and I am very worried about him getting this onboard, as well as the VERY limited about of other foods that he will eat. Unfortuantely with all of the travel regulations it gets difficult to travel with fluids. I have seen the juice box style of silk boxes at Walmart, and we have used those for short trips. I could potentially put them in a suitcase, or even have a box shipped (maybe we will do a WDW for a few days first- trip). Any cruising ideas for us? We also have an 8 year old daughter and another 3 year old son (a twin).
Thanks for your help!!!
I have not cruised with Disney, however I have taken my son with autism on 11 cruises (Carnival and HAL). He also has a very limited diet. I can't help you with the airplane as we drive, but we do bring my son's foods with us on the ship. He only eats Schwan chicken nuggets, so we bring them frozen in a cooler and give them to the dining room. They keep them aside and cook them and serve them to him at dinner every evening. We also bring prepackaged jello with fruit, fruit snacks, granola bars and chips. He will eat bananas so thats his staple breakfast - however sometimes toward the end of a cruise they will run out of bananas so we now know to get a several at the beginning and keep in the cabin. The only food he will eat that they cook is french fries.

If his sensory issues are severe I would suggest you bring his stroller to be a safe zone. It can also be used to "bar" the door at night if he is a flight risk. Cruise ship doors typically don't have hotel like bars to keep kids inside.

All that said, my son loves to cruise and would rather cruise than go to Disney. If you aren't SURE, take a shorter cruise to test the waters.

Good luck making a decision. There is a good disabilities board over on cruisecritic.com if you need more info.
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Old 02-26-2011, 02:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DZNEE4US View Post
Thanks for the tips about the liquids. I didn't know what their policies were, since air travel has become so crazily constricted about what you can carry on board. I am thinking I may wait until my son is older (he's only 3 and 1/2 now), and develops better language skills. Wouldn't it be great if they had a sailing esp. for kids w/ Autism? I know I am excluding other disabilities, but maybe they could also have their own dates. They could have different sensory areas for the kids, and do activities that would better suit them, and for once give the parents some time away from ASD!!!!!!!
Check out autismontheseas.com Also check with your local autism groups. We are doing our third autism group cruise in October out of Mobile, AL if you are interested you could send me a PM. We are going on the Carnival Elation.
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Old 02-26-2011, 02:30 PM   #15
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DS has been cruising since he was 7. His first cruise was a Disney cruise and he has been on about 10 cruises total all together. (I remember bringing soy milk with me as well.) DS made great strides on the Disney Magic. He went to the Oceaneer's Club and socialized with the other kids beyond what I would have expected. He even danced the chicken dance and made flubber, putting some of his sensory issues aside. DS always liked eggs and plain pasta so he wasn't too difficult to feed. His only sensory issues related to members of the entertainment staff yelling, "Let me hear you say YEAH! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" and so forth. But, when he was younger, I always carried earplugs. One of the benefits DS got from cruising was some vestibular stim. To this day, he loves the rocking of the ship and finds it soothing. He is now a few months short of his 17th bday and still loves cruising with Disney.
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