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Old 11-26-2012, 07:16 PM   #1
MelMtlk
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Special Needs for Kids

Does anyone have any tips on special needs for children? Our son is 3 years old and is on the autism spectrum, wasn't sure about suggestions from other parents. Thanks for your tips!
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:35 PM   #2
kristinfly2
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Tips for cruising or just life in general?
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Old 11-26-2012, 08:27 PM   #3
MelMtlk
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Cruising specifically, we are working on life in general....LOL
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Old 11-26-2012, 08:58 PM   #4
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We took our 4 youngest on the magic three weeks ago. Our 10 yo (was 9 on the cruise) is special needs. She and the other 3 youngest are adopted. She was born premmie, drug exposed and had brain bleeds as a new born. Intellectually she is about 7 and socially about 5. She is also hearing impaired. She also has a lot of autism behaviors but isn't actually autistic. She did great on the cruise! Counselors at the club were wonderful with her and she enjoyed the whole experience! The toughest part of the trip for her was the train that takes you to the different terminals in Denver. I have no idea why! Glad we booked a 7 day as it gave her time to settle in. We also watched all the videos about our ship on the DCL website many times before we went. It really helped her visualize the vacation and all the things we would encounter. We also made time to let all the kids just hang out in the room and watch Disney movies on the tv when they were over stimulated ( all of our kids have issues with that). I would highly recommend a veranda! Jon and I spent a lot of time out there while the kids were resting or regrouping.

There is another mom on here who gave me great advice before we left. Her name is jaxmama and she is really sweet! I think your kids are closer in age than they are to mine.

If you have any other questions just pm me! I hate to say this but there was a thread last week about special needs kids that got really nasty. One person who does not have special needs kids made some nasty comments. .
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:04 PM   #5
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Sorry the other disers name is momma2jax! Not jaxmomma! She is great and I hope she posts!
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:09 PM   #6
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Hello! My special needs kiddo is also 3, and we had some major concerns with how he would do on our cruise. We did a 7 day Alaska cruise. Here are some of the things we did, or noticed:

- we got a verandah room, and were VERY glad. My son needs down time in a quiet place when he starts getting overwhelmed, or, I'm sure you know exactly what happens. so we did spend a lot of time in our room, especially in the afternoons. But because we had a verandah, we didn't feel like we were missing the sights. We were also able to get lots of great pics of Alaska without standing with the crowds on the decks. He just played in the room, came out with us, watched cartoons, etc.. During these times.

- for the sail away party, we started on deck 10, thinking that we could easily walk away if it got to be too much. For whatever reason (temporary insanity or something) we went down to deck 9 about halfway through. He was waaaay overstimulated, hadn't had a nap, and was just in general out of whack because of all the newness. So he was not a happy camper. Just as we were about to say "forget it" and go to the room, Mickey came out (his current obsession) and he went nutso (in a good way) so that helped, but I think staying on the top deck would have been better.

- Our serving staff were excellent with him. He has allergies that they were very mindful of, and they never batted an eye when he would insist that the silverware be facing one way, etc... They just rolled with it!

- he is not potty trained, so we couldn't check him into the club (he is also not developmentally ready for it) but we did take him in there for the open house hours. He loved it! The staff in there was wonderful with him, and said that if it was not busy, we could actually check him in some time. They said that they usually assign a 1-on-1 CM to special needs kids when the club is not full. We just never felt it was a good time to do that...but we may next time! He did use the nursery once while we did Palo, and they were excellent with him, too! He loved it in there!

-he has some trouble waiting in line for characters. We would play nearby, and go when the line wasn't terrible. But for Mickey and some of the bigger ones, it was always long. We would keep him in line for as long as possible, then if it just wasn't working, usually DH or I would walk with him around that area while the other stayed in line. Then we would join them again when they were close. I know that seems rude, but trust me, it was for everyone's good

-we did not plan excursions because we simply don't know how he will react to different things. We just played it by ear in the ports, walking around, finding stuff to do. He did great!

- he LOVED the shows! We only went to the actual shows, not the other acts (magicians, etc...) we sat in the back in case it was too much, but he loved it! H does ever hearing aids, and we popped them out a few times to avoid overstimulation, but in general, he was in heaven!

-as a special needs parent, I am sure you are all too familiar, like us, to the judge-eyes that strangers give when your child is acting out their disability. I am happy to say that I never, not once, felt that on this cruise. People noticed, I know, but they just smiled, said hi to him, gave us knowing looks, etc.. Both staff and other guests. We felt so welcome. One particular time he was having an on-the-floor-meltdown on the pool deck. There was hardly anyone around, so we were waiting him out. Just standing there, doing nothing, waiting for him to take a breath and chill. (Works best for him). A couple walked by, saw what was going on, and the lady leaned to me and said, "good job, momma!"

The biggest thing I would say is to be flexible, don't overplay, and just have a good time!
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kristinfly2

There is another mom on here who gave me great advice before we left. Her name is jaxmama and she is really sweet! I think your kids are closer in age than they are to mine.
thank you! I am glad I was able to help you!
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma2Jax View Post
-he has some trouble waiting in line for characters. We would play nearby, and go when the line wasn't terrible. But for Mickey and some of the bigger ones, it was always long. We would keep him in line for as long as possible, then if it just wasn't working, usually DH or I would walk with him around that area while the other stayed in line. Then we would join them again when they were close. I know that seems rude, but trust me, it was for everyone's good

overstimulation, but in general, he was in heaven!
Not rude at all. It is only rude you save it for a bunch of people including non family members aka friends.
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:24 PM   #9
MelMtlk
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Wow! Thank you both a ton! I am preparing notecards with pictures printed from the web. He is having a hard time with transitions? ! ? We are also bringing a daily chart for us to fill out with activities. He had two older sisters which will both be of age for the club, thinking that will help. He is adopted and this is our adoption celebration! We just finalized in April after three years with us as his foster family! Very excited, but nervous! Thanks again for all your help!

I am not able to pm anyone yet on this board. If you can email me at melmatlick@gmail.com and we
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:25 PM   #10
MelMtlk
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Sorry, it posted before it was done...lol

We can email more privately! Thanks!
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feisty Fairy

Not rude at all. It is only rude you save it for a bunch of people including non family members aka friends.
Thank you! I tried to smile, and hoped no one thought I was being rude

Quote:
Originally Posted by MelMtlk
Wow! Thank you both a ton! I am preparing notecards with pictures printed from the web. He is having a hard time with transitions? ! ? We are also bringing a daily chart for us to fill out with activities. He had two older sisters which will both be of age for the club, thinking that will help. He is adopted and this is our adoption celebration! We just finalized in April after three years with us as his foster family! Very excited, but nervous! Thanks again for all your help!

I am not able to pm anyone yet on this board. If you can email me at melmatlick@gmail.com and we

Congratulations! We adopted from foster care, as well, in 2011!

What itinerary are you going on? We were on a repositioning cruise that ended in Vancouver, so we had to go through customs. I brought his adoption decree with a seal on it, just in case. His new birth certificate was enough, but I figured if I didn't have it, we would need it. (But we did NOT mention having it to them, we would just pop it out if they asked, or somehow knew that his birth certificate was different from his original).

The visual schedule is a great idea! You could even look at some old navigators and make new pictures for things you know will happen in the cruise (especially like the lifeboat drill, etc) to add t it! We use a Velcro one that can be changed (before he gets up!)
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:52 PM   #12
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I sail next week so my response might be different after, but here are some of my suggests based on my experiences with my 5 yr old with autism.

Watch videos and look at lots and lots of pictures of the ship, and a few of an airport and inside of a plane if you are flying and he has never flown before. Look at them so frequently you know the ship by heart before you step onboard.

Unless your son likes strangers, call ahead and request a private table at dinner, preferably not in the center of the dining room where there is more activity. Mention that you are requesting because of your autistic son, when I mentioned why she also requested us a window table. I would also think this would increase your chances of getting your request, and hopefully be assigned a server who may be better with SN kids. And don't worry if you need to get up and leave dinner early. There is always room service!

Don't interupt his sleep/eat schedule for anything! Even those once in a lifetime, super awesome, you know he will love them, 10:30PM fireworks!

I am assuming your son has food issues like most kids with ASD. Check the menus before you go. Find foods he eats and tell him about them, this will save you planning time on the ship.

If he has an OT, ask his OT for ideas to help regulate his sensory system while traveling. At home, my son uses a sensory swing but we obviously can't travel with it. So I purchased a body sock off Ebay, when he needs down time he will get in the sock with my ipod or other game and just be by himself for 15 minutes or so and just be so much more together.
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:58 PM   #13
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Congratulations on your adoption!

My DS also stuggles with transition and needs to know what to expect. Before his first cruise we spent a lot of time watching all the YouTube videos we could find....staterooms, sail away party, pools ect. It eased is mind having an idea of what to expect.
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Old 11-26-2012, 10:02 PM   #14
kristinfly2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelMtlk
Wow! Thank you both a ton! I am preparing notecards with pictures printed from the web. He is having a hard time with transitions? ! ? We are also bringing a daily chart for us to fill out with activities. He had two older sisters which will both be of age for the club, thinking that will help. He is adopted and this is our adoption celebration! We just finalized in April after three years with us as his foster family! Very excited, but nervous! Thanks again for all your help!

I am not able to pm anyone yet on this board. If you can email me at melmatlick@gmail.com and we
Congrats on finalizing!! .
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:51 AM   #15
CoasterDadof2
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I would absolutely call Disney and advise them of his trouble spots. My son is ASD and is now 9. The muster drill is a very tough spot for us, as it's loud, close together, and lots of waiting. We talked with Disney this past cruise, and they allowed us to check him in, and leave early when he was starting to have issues.

Disney also allowed us a lower embarkation number to limit the waiting in terminal. This was huge for us so that we could get food at the buffet for lunch before it got really busy. Generally the buffet is a no-go for us during the cruise.
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