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Old 09-25-2012, 08:30 AM   #1
Jays2013
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GAC? Good idea?

Hello folks. We're taking our boys, ages 8 ad 4, to WDW next spring and I've been contemplating whether or not to get a GAC.

I appreciate their existence ... and I want to do everything possible to make sure older DS has a great trip ... but I'm not sure we need it and I don't want to just get one for the sake of getting one, when there are others who really do need it.

DS1 has Down Syndrome. He's very (I hate this phrase, but it fits) high functioning. He's verbal, he walks (and runs!) just fine. We have high hopes he will finally be fully potty-trained by our trip, but he's partly trained now.

He does have some autistic-sort of tendencies, like many DS kids. He's not fond of crowds (but can tolerate them, especially if he really wants to do something), can throw fits if he's in a particularly stubborn mood. But, really, not so much different than any child, especially if you mentally take a few years off his age.

Someone told us we should get a GAC, but I'm wracking my brains thinking of a way it could really help us. I know it's not a "skip the line" card (nor do I want it to be one), and DS will indeed wait in line if he wants to. If he doesn't want to, DH and I are perfectly willing to split up and one will take younger DS and the other will find something with water and wait with older DS. (I anticipate a tour of the fountains of WDW. He adores fountains of any sort!)

Is there a way a GAC could help us I'm not thinking of? I appreciate any advice. Older DS has been to Disney before, but he was 1 and just wide-eyed at everything, not a stubborn 8-year-old.
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Old 09-25-2012, 10:31 AM   #2
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Sounds as if you don't need a GAC. You can always change your mind if you decide you do. A good touring plan is probably all you need.
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Old 09-25-2012, 10:59 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jays2013 View Post
Hello folks. We're taking our boys, ages 8 ad 4, to WDW next spring and I've been contemplating whether or not to get a GAC.

I appreciate their existence ... and I want to do everything possible to make sure older DS has a great trip ... but I'm not sure we need it and I don't want to just get one for the sake of getting one, when there are others who really do need it.
On our last trip, we had a GAC for my daughter. I couldn't tell then if it did much good. We'd do 4-6 rides, then she'd had enough for the day and we'd bug out. Swimming, relaxing, reading, etc. The next day we'd do it again, and over a 7-10 day vacation, we got to do everything we wanted multiple times.

This summer we did LegoLand California, with no GAC-equivalent. Lines were short, and I hadn't thought it helped much. We got the same 4-6 rides in each day, but after two days, she was DONE. There were more rides she wanted to go on, but being that close to that many people was just too much for her to tolerate any more.

The GAC gives us a little breathing room. We wait, but she can "tune out" the crowds around her, because she doesn't have to keep scooting forward a couple feet as the line moves. The waiting areas tend to be less crowded, and no one minds so much if she sits down and plays with a cell phone.

It also significantly reduces -my- stress. She'll be ok in line, but I can see how much she struggles, and it comes out in a lot of borderline behavior. Fiddling with chains, swinging her lanyard, flipping her light on and off, barking, mooing, booing, grabbing (people in our group only), pulling away, pushing close, repetitive jokes and rhyming wordplay. I'm on high alert for that switching from "acceptable coping behavior" to "got so involved in her coping behavior that she bashed an innocent kid in the head" I get tense watching, then she picks up on my tension and the stress makes her need more outlets, and we start an unpleasant cycle.

For our upcoming trip, she's advocating "wait and see", and I'm advocating "get one as insurance". Both are pretty reasonable answers, especially since we're anticipating low crowd levels.
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Old 09-25-2012, 02:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jays2013 View Post
DS1 has Down Syndrome. He's very (I hate this phrase, but it fits) high functioning. He's verbal, he walks (and runs!) just fine. We have high hopes he will finally be fully potty-trained by our trip, but he's partly trained now.

He does have some autistic-sort of tendencies, like many DS kids. He's not fond of crowds (but can tolerate them, especially if he really wants to do something), can throw fits if he's in a particularly stubborn mood. But, really, not so much different than any child, especially if you mentally take a few years off his age.
Since a GAC is provided based on needs and not diagnosis, you would have to explain his needs related to the park(s). Does he tire easily (some children I know with DS have low muscle tone)? You mentioned he can wait in lines, he walks so presumably he can do stairs and moving walkways. Does he get overstimulated or anxious (meaning stressed-anxious, not I'm-so-excited-to-do-this-ride! anxious).

It's good you are thinking about this now - you have lots of time for planning. Watch his behavior over the next few months, particularly if you attend special events, zoos or other amusement parks near home. Think what went well, think about what didn't go well and what might have improved that experience. Feel free to come back and ask questions you may have.

If you can describe needs, you can always get a GAC to hold sort of as "insurance" - it's there if you need it. There isn't a finite number of GACs so you aren't taking something away from anyone else by getting one. If it could help, you are certainly entitled to it. Many of us do find that a touring plan, taking time for breaks, and recognizing limits goes much further than a GAC.

Enjoy your vacation!
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Old 09-25-2012, 03:01 PM   #5
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Don't worry about thinking that you are taking a pass that someone else may have needed more. There is no limit to the amount of passes they hand out a day...unlike the wheelchairs and ECVs that are limited to the supply they have for the day.

You can always go get one at any time of the day if you feel the need. The other day we got one at 8pm! or, you can just pick it up at the beginning of the day, and use it when you need to ( probably more towards the end of the day or when crowds are particularly high).
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Old 09-25-2012, 03:41 PM   #6
Jays2013
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Thank you for the advice. It's nothing I've ever looked into before. DS has done other amusement parks, but nothing with long lines. I just want to be prepared.

I will keep a thoughtful eye for a few months, thinking about whether this would help or not. I know his pediatrician will write us a note if I ask. Perhaps we prepare to document to get one, then not actually do it if it doesn't turn out to be necessary.

There might be something where all of a sudden, a lightbulb goes on. Oh, that will help!

Thank you all so much. I'm so glad I found this board.
__________________
Early planning for April 2015!

Me DH DS1 (9) DS2 (5)

---
April 2013 Art of Animation Nemo
Feb. 2006 Pop Century
Nov. 2003 Coronado
Sept. 2002 Animal Kingdom Lodge (honeymoon!)
Three trips as a child,
including one stay at Port Orleans French Quarter
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Old 09-25-2012, 03:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jays2013 View Post
Thank you for the advice. It's nothing I've ever looked into before. DS has done other amusement parks, but nothing with long lines. I just want to be prepared.

I will keep a thoughtful eye for a few months, thinking about whether this would help or not. I know his pediatrician will write us a note if I ask. Perhaps we prepare to document to get one, then not actually do it if it doesn't turn out to be necessary.

There might be something where all of a sudden, a lightbulb goes on. Oh, that will help!

Thank you all so much. I'm so glad I found this board.
You don't need documentation from your doctor - just to be able to explain what you need.

For more information, follow the link in my signature to the disABILITIES FAQs and then look in post 6.
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