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Old 10-11-2012, 10:11 AM   #1
Mommyof2boys1118
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Sensory processing disorder and disneyland

Hi,
This is our 1st Disneyland trip with our almost 3yeard old who has spd and social anxiety with possible autism (he is being evaluated in the next few months). I am looking for any tips and tricks. My son needs routine so I plan on scheduling our days and he is visual and does not talk so I also plan on doing a picture book with all the rides and shows. I am also going to make him a couple of social stories for things that may happen.
If you could help with
What social stories I should do.
Any good calm down spots
Good places for a seeker
Character meals which may be ok
Plus any other tips or tricks please let me know
We are going from December 22-December 28 so we will be taking daily breaks to the hotel and can go slow pace.
Thanks
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:32 AM   #2
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I have two children with autism and YouTube I have used a lot to show rides, shows, etc. My son gets overwhelmed by Disneyland and parades are too much for him. My daughter is more of a sensory seeker so she loves parades. I always rent a stroller and have a blanket to put over the top and my son goes in there when he's overwhelmed. I also bring headphones for both kids. I have noise canceling ones for my son and bought a pair from Home Depot that people wear on construction sites for my daughter. Just take breaks and try not to do too much in one day. When my kids were younger they handled Disneyland much better. Enjoy your trip. I'm sure your son will have the best time.
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:49 AM   #3
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My son with Asperger's was 6 when we first went to Disneyland. I think preparing ahead of time with social stories is great. I think I would write some that cover crowds (like how to handle things if someone bumps into you, or if you can't see well because someone is standing in front of you), rides breaking down when you are in line and therefore are unable to ride at that time, waiting, waiting, waiting...for food, rides, shows to start, etc, and being flexible because plans can quickly change ( sometimes planning to do a ride, but when you show up its down, so then you do something else), also the noise...there is crowd noise and music everywhere in Disneyland! You'd probably want one about the characters, too, especially if you do a meal, because they are big, and there may be touching involved!

Taking a mid day break was really important, and helped with those tired meltdowns. Drawing was very soothing for our son, so we always had paper and crayons with us for short breaks. We also found looking at maps was very helpful. We would point out where we were, and would show him where we were going, and how we would get there. He had a map in his hand on many of our pictures that year. Looking at things online on youtube might also help prepare him for what to expect.

He enjoyed things like Tarzans Tree House, Tom Sawyers Island, the Redwoord Creek Trail at DCA, because he could run around or just be moving and not have to be standing and waiting for something. It was a good "break" from waiting in lines.

Disneyland was a little rough the first year, but he's a teen now, and it's his favorite place to vacation!
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mommyof2boys1118 View Post
Hi,
This is our 1st Disneyland trip with our almost 3yeard old who has spd and social anxiety with possible autism (he is being evaluated in the next few months). I am looking for any tips and tricks.
My daughter (now 16) was diagnosed with autism at 3, and I have been taking her to Disney parks for years. In fact, her first words were "I saw Mickey". (BTW, the child who might never make it in a regular classroom, and who might never graduate high school is going to do it a year and a half early, and is taking the hardest science course the local COLLEGE offers. It really, truly can get better.)

Quote:
My son needs routine so I plan on scheduling our days and he is visual and does not talk so I also plan on doing a picture book with all the rides and shows. I am also going to make him a couple of social stories for things that may happen.
If you could help with
What social stories I should do.
Make a social story about the hotel or motel--pref. with pictures of the room. I strongly, STRONGLY recommend you stay close to the hotel. I would suggest the Howard Johnson's Anaheim--it has a very nice, kid-size water park, so if he needs a break from the park, he can do a little sensory integration.

As you make your social stories, see if you can find some pictures with a more realistic idea of crowding--that can be a real shock for our kids, as to how many people are actually there.

Also, be sure to stop by Guest Services and get a Guest Assistance Pass (this is abbreviated GAC on the boards).

Definitely make one for the hotel, and one for any nighttime shows you plan to see. Also, bring headphones--they can be very loud, and oftentimes just cutting down the noise level can be very calming. If he has a comfort object, make sure he has it with him, (and do a "lovey check" whenever you move from one area to another.)

Quote:
Any good calm down spots
Remember, you can always hang out in the baby area. I had to do that with my daughter a few times when she was small. Also, the Grand Californian, Disneyland and the Paradise Pier Hotels have places where kids can sit in little chairs and watch cartoons, and they are usually pretty quiet. You can use them even if you aren't staying there.

Also, Tom Sawyer Island (it's been renamed--not sure the new name) and the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail are good places to run off some energy. If you stay at the Howard Johnson's Anaheim or the Disneyland Hotels, they all have nice pool areas.

Quote:
Good places for a seeker
Anywhere in the park. Have him look for hidden Mickeys Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is another good choice.

Quote:
Character meals which may be ok
I would do the hotel character breakfasts, and not the park breakfasts. If he needs a calm down, or finds he just can't handle the characters, it's much easier to get to a quiet place. However, I will tell you that in my daughter's case, she loved meeting the characters above all else--you may spend a lot of time at the breakfasts. I'd recommend Storyteller's Cafe for a first pass. It's a smaller place, less busy, and calmly decorated. Also, if you find he's afraid of the characters, it's pretty easy to let the servers know. Given your dates, make sure you eat very, very early and get to the parks early.

Quote:
Plus any other tips or tricks please let me know
Your dates put you at the absolute busiest, most crazy time of the year, and that is going to take its toll. Hit the park in mornings and evenings, and have lunch in your room to settle down in the afternoons, or by the pool. It's easy to have Von's deliver food, and if your room has a refrigerator, it's easy to prepare a simple lunch. You will need a LONG midday break.

If at all possible, stay close to the parks. You don't have to stay at the Disneyland Hotels, but the Howard Johnson's, Carousel Inn or Park Place Inn would be a very good idea. Of them all, I'd recommend the HoJos for the pool area.

Spend a lot of time going over the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, and develop yourself a really, REALLY good touring plan. That will be invaluable.


Quote:
We are going from December 22-December 28 so we will be taking daily breaks to the hotel and can go slow pace.
Thanks
We went during that time last year, very crowded, but beautiful, and we all had a wonderful time. Have a great trip.
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:11 AM   #5
nikkislaght
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You can get weight control "belts" from Ross from anywhere from $1 sometimes up to $10. if its too long you can cut it.
I would get one of these before your trip to see if these work with him , and then if so take it.. or at lest a weighted blanket or vest..

Noise cancelling head phones a must.


Couple of links for social stories :


http://www.wdwautism.com/node/194
the above link is for waiting in line at DL


http://www.disneylandwithdisabilitie...ocial-stories/




http://www.thewatsoninstitute.org/te...01226415747290


http://mrsmenagerie.hubpages.com/hub...Autistic-Child


If you have an Ipod or Ipad than I would bring that with you for the lines.

Making sure you have snacks. and drinks

Make use of the train, ride it for a rest .

Hope you all have fun..
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:45 AM   #6
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We use a toddler back pack for our son who has SPD. He does not like the weighted beats or belts but loves his back pack. We let him put in cars he likes and a water bottle for the weight.

Also the head phones are a must for him. We have found he does not do well in the baby care area it's typically to loud for him if one baby is crying he flips out in the small space.

The wilderness challenge play area in California adventure is usually a great place for h he can run at and push against rocks to his hearts content plus there are the rope bridges and climbing areas he like to roll on and swing around on.
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Old 10-11-2012, 12:34 PM   #7
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My dd (started going to dl at 4) had a little backpack in which she carried her very very special teddy bear, Pink Row Row. PRR's head was sticking out so she could experience everything with dd and this helped a lot!

We found she chewed up the sleeves on her sweatshirt the first day, so we bought her something she could chew on instead (it was a little rubber thingy we attached to her jacket zipper--just make sure it's safe to put in the mouth).

She was fine with the music and lights, but could not tolerate fireworks or cannon booms. Just an FYI. We did not do fireworks, parades, Fantasmic, and things of that nature.

DD liked to walk in patterns where there were tiles (like in Tomorrowland), which was a little tricky on busy days.

Self-flushing toilets was a big problem for us. There was no trick that eased that fear. Maybe easier with a boy?

We took advantage of staying close by to take afternoon breaks.

DD enjoyed being a princess while at DL and I think taking on a role was very helpful for her. The whole park was another world and she was able to let go of some of her usual problem areas. She eventually went into theater and it is her favorite outlet. She has no performance fears at all, oddly enough! It turns out it isn't uncommon for Aspberger's kids to gravitate to performing arts.

Giving your child time and space to run, swim, etc is a great stress reducer. The more they can stretch their muscles, the better, as this stimulates their proprioceptive centers. I can't exactly remember what that means but it worked for dd and was advice from a sensory integration therapist. According to the therapist, it is one reason why you will often see chewing, hand flapping, toe walking, etc from these kids--it does the same thing. Those actions release a chemical that calms them. I can't verify that scientifically but I can say that it worked well for us to follow that advice. Not at DL but at home, dd would often go into meltdown mode in the car after school. Giving her something thick that she had to suck through a straw--like a banana smoothie--worked most of the time.

I know it sounds weird but my dd would often go into the hotel closet to calm herself down. Smallish confined spaces were her preference, with little sensory input (dark, quiet, and enclosed).

Good luck! My dd LOVED DL and was able to do better there than most places, in spite of the enormous amount of sensory stimulation. You will probably have to use your first visit to gauge the adjustments you will need. These kids can surprise you!!
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:20 PM   #8
Mommyof2boys1118
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Some of my supply list that we never leave home with out
Weights
Weighted vest
Weighted blanket
Chewy (3-4)
Headphones
iPhones
Fidget toys
Schedule
Picture book (pecs)
Stroller with blanket to cover it
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:40 PM   #9
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Do a trial run on any of the rides that might be iffy for your son. I did them thru my daughter's eyes. If it was too dark, too loud, anything that is not set on the gound (ie: small boats) or to may suprises she can not go them. Made the mistake of taking her on the wrong ride and could not go on ANYTHING. The rest of the day, she jumped at EVERYTHING.

SO our long list (don't laugh) of rides are tea cups, carousal, tea cups, tarzan's tree house (but she crys thru it), tea cups, sailing ship columbia, tea cups, and we can take the train as long as we don't go past the dinosaur exhibit. Oh and did I mention the tea cups. At DCA our long list is the Junior disney show and any live show without any villians. She also loves the parades and characters. We spend A LOT of time walking around the park and some time looking at the stores, which can be good if she is not too stressed. WE do Goofy's as soon as they open (usually dinner). It is better for us because it has some entertainment and is not just the character comming to the table. Having them sign her book helps. She can talk but not so good at comminucation so it can be tough when it is just the characters visiting the table.

We also visit DTD and the resorts. Still Disney but without the crowds. World of Disney is better if you go in the morning instead of at night when you get to shop with your closest 100 or so friends! It was a good start to our morning the day after I took her on the wrong ride.

We always stay at a VERY close hotel so we can make a quit exist if necessary. I also bring her favorite snacks and she always has her bear with her.

Try to keep your schedule the same as at home - mels, bed time, etc. It really can help. I play it by ear as to how stressed my daughter is at any given moment. There are some eating area that are quite and are good for down time and running around.

Make sure to get a GAC. We only use it when necessary but it worth having.

Have a wonderful time. Disney is great for our kids. Most of the CMs are very nice to our kids. We do have a wonderful time when we at at Disney even though we don't do much compared to most people.

Last edited by rmom; 10-11-2012 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mommyof2boys1118 View Post
Hi,
This is our 1st Disneyland trip with our almost 3yeard old who has spd and social anxiety with possible autism (he is being evaluated in the next few months). I am looking for any tips and tricks. My son needs routine so I plan on scheduling our days and he is visual and does not talk so I also plan on doing a picture book with all the rides and shows. I am also going to make him a couple of social stories for things that may happen.
If you could help with
What social stories I should do.
Any good calm down spots
Good places for a seeker
Character meals which may be ok
Plus any other tips or tricks please let me know
We are going from December 22-December 28 so we will be taking daily breaks to the hotel and can go slow pace.
Thanks
WOW this brings back a lot of memories. My daughter is also on the spectrum and we used Disney trips to help her learn to deal with crowds, unpredictable people, etc. The first few times we went she was non-verbal, but once she was able to communicate, our processes at the parks changed.

Here's what we did:
  • When making character meal reservations, I asked the CM on the phone to note that we wanted a corner booth. That way my daughter wouldn't be surprised by characters sneaking up behind her.
  • Videos of rides were essential. If possible, load them on your phone (or access them via YouTube on your phone) so he can watch them right before deciding whether or not to ride
  • Before my daughter was verbal, I wrote this on a card in her lanyard: "I am lost. I am autistic and can't talk. Please call my mom at XXX.XXX.XXX. Her name is XXXXX." We practiced showing scenarios where she would show this to someone with a Disney name tag if she couldn't find me. If your son won't wear things around his neck, this can be put in a pocket or written on an arm.
  • As soon as we entered the park, I walked her to each of the 'quiet spots' so she'd know where they are. That eased her anxiety. Here are some we've used:
    • First aid stations
    • Baby center
    • The viewing room for the castle walk-thru or the one for nemo
    • Court of Angels
    • The island
    • Near the Pooh ride
    • The lower level of Hungry Bear
    • The petting zoo (though this will be very crowded for Christmas)
  • We practiced dealing with crowds before we arrived by going to crowded malls. When she'd get overwelmed, I'd practice calming her down, finding quiet places, etc. This helped a lot (for both of us)!
  • Whenever possible, I'd quietly tell character handlers about the autism...that usually helped them take their time when she was a little hesitant in approaching the character.
  • We looked at LOTS of pictures of the hotel room before we went.
  • We brought a pillow and blanket from home so that it wasn't as 'scary' to sleep in a new bed.
I hope that helps!
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Old 10-11-2012, 03:46 PM   #11
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Self-flushing toilets was a big problem for us. There was no trick that eased that fear. Maybe easier with a boy?
These were a problem for my youngest. I got some post it notes then, knowing which local stores had self flushing toilets in our neighborhood, I made it a point to take her in those if we were shopping there and I would put one over the sensor and show her that it wouldn't flush. It took several visits, but we are finally able to use them now. One year later she still asks in every public restroom if it will flush by itself and do I have a stickey to cover it. Just remember to remove it as you leave.
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Old 10-11-2012, 05:57 PM   #12
Mel90210
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Hi....don't be scared...I also prepare our little one. He is 6 but I keep him in a stroller...I think it feeling snug around him helps. Also for Haunted Mansion the beginning part you can get some people in there that SCREAM really really loud before the ride.....if you ask they can take you the back way (which is dark FYI) but very very quiet and you can avoid the over zealous people that like to spook it up and can really ruin it if you have this problem. Maybe give your child a map as well...with a mickey sticker and let them put the sticker on the next ride you are heading to?
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Old 10-11-2012, 06:39 PM   #13
nikkislaght
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DizMe View Post
My dd (started going to dl at 4) had a little backpack in which she carried her very very special teddy bear, Pink Row Row. PRR's head was sticking out so she could experience everything with dd and this helped a lot!

We found she chewed up the sleeves on her sweatshirt the first day, so we bought her something she could chew on instead (it was a little rubber thingy we attached to her jacket zipper--just make sure it's safe to put in the mouth).

She was fine with the music and lights, but could not tolerate fireworks or cannon booms. Just an FYI. We did not do fireworks, parades, Fantasmic, and things of that nature.

DD liked to walk in patterns where there were tiles (like in Tomorrowland), which was a little tricky on busy days.

Self-flushing toilets was a big problem for us. There was no trick that eased that fear. Maybe easier with a boy?

We took advantage of staying close by to take afternoon breaks.

DD enjoyed being a princess while at DL and I think taking on a role was very helpful for her. The whole park was another world and she was able to let go of some of her usual problem areas. She eventually went into theater and it is her favorite outlet. She has no performance fears at all, oddly enough! It turns out it isn't uncommon for Aspberger's kids to gravitate to performing arts.

Giving your child time and space to run, swim, etc is a great stress reducer. The more they can stretch their muscles, the better, as this stimulates their proprioceptive centers. I can't exactly remember what that means but it worked for dd and was advice from a sensory integration therapist. According to the therapist, it is one reason why you will often see chewing, hand flapping, toe walking, etc from these kids--it does the same thing. Those actions release a chemical that calms them. I can't verify that scientifically but I can say that it worked well for us to follow that advice. Not at DL but at home, dd would often go into meltdown mode in the car after school. Giving her something thick that she had to suck through a straw--like a banana smoothie--worked most of the time.

I know it sounds weird but my dd would often go into the hotel closet to calm herself down. Smallish confined spaces were her preference, with little sensory input (dark, quiet, and enclosed).

Good luck! My dd LOVED DL and was able to do better there than most places, in spite of the enormous amount of sensory stimulation. You will probably have to use your first visit to gauge the adjustments you will need. These kids can surprise you!!




For the self flushing toilet problem... use a post it note over the sensory..
when the child is finished using the toilet and walking out the door you can then remove the post it note so it can then flush..
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Old 10-11-2012, 08:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikkislaght View Post
For the self flushing toilet problem... use a post it note over the sensory..
when the child is finished using the toilet and walking out the door you can then remove the post it note so it can then flush..
Thank you guys for that tip, but it didn't work for us. She was so terrified that the toilet would flush anyway (and convinced that it would) that there was no way to make her think it was ok. I got her to try once and the toilet in the next stall flushed, which sent her shooting off the pot in mid-stream

She's 12 now and has learned to cope with most issues, but that remains one thing she hates and avoids.
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