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Old 04-04-2013, 01:47 PM   #1
BibiSmart
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Problems at Disney with my Autistic son

I have a 13 year old autistic son whom I have been taking to Disney since he was born. I does not outwardly show any signs of his autism. However, my son doesn't wait very well and is easily angered and frustrated when crowded. We have been provided with Guest Assistance Pass to make the couple of hours he can tolerate bearable.

The problem is people remark, give dirty looks and complain about us passing them on line. I have had people argue because they cannot squeeze on a ride with us as he cannot have a tight fit. I even had an employee tell my son he couldn't use the family bathroom because he wasn't handicapped. Needless to say, these negative experiences has caused him to not want to go to Disney anymore. We are Annual Passholders and haven't been to a park in ages and when we do go, he is apprehensive of going.

Has anyone experienced similar issues? And if so, how have you handled it.

Any suggestions on making my magical place more pleasurable for him.
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Old 04-04-2013, 05:07 PM   #2
mrsmarilyn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BibiSmart View Post
I have a 13 year old autistic son whom I have been taking to Disney since he was born. I does not outwardly show any signs of his autism. However, my son doesn't wait very well and is easily angered and frustrated when crowded. We have been provided with Guest Assistance Pass to make the couple of hours he can tolerate bearable.

The problem is people remark, give dirty looks and complain about us passing them on line. I have had people argue because they cannot squeeze on a ride with us as he cannot have a tight fit. I even had an employee tell my son he couldn't use the family bathroom because he wasn't handicapped. Needless to say, these negative experiences has caused him to not want to go to Disney anymore. We are Annual Passholders and haven't been to a park in ages and when we do go, he is apprehensive of going.

Has anyone experienced similar issues? And if so, how have you handled it.

Any suggestions on making my magical place more pleasurable for him.

The first thing you have to realize is YOUR Magical Place may not be HIS Magical Place. Disney is the center of over-stimulation, and not everyone can handle it-- I know neurotypicals who can't handle it. So you may simply have to accept that it's not Magic for him right now at this stage. I know it makes you happy, but if it isn't making him happy, don't force him to go. In addition, teenagers usually aren't the biggest Disney Fans, they want Universal at that age.

I have twin Aspie kids, age 12. The whole pre-puberty/hormones thing just makes every aspect of life so so much harder. When we go, we do our favorite things, and have LOTS of down time. I've only had someone (guest, not CM) make a remark, and I'm a biotch from NY, so I let them have it with both barrels. A quick line is "Not every disability is visible, my child has Autism". I had someone tell me they didn't care and I nearly ripped their head off, but thats another story.

Only you know your child. But don't force him to go somewhere that makes him uncomfortable. The experiences are past but he obviously hasn't forgotten, and forcing him to try again won't help your cause. Maybe wait until they are doing a really special event at one of the parks and see if you can peak his interest. If you are going as a family, he hopefully can understand being together as a family. But if its just a casual visit, let me him do something else while you go to your Happy Place. Unfortunately our kids don't always love what we love. But his love may return as he gets older.

Hang in there.
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BibiSmart View Post
I have a 13 year old autistic son whom I have been taking to Disney since he was born. I does not outwardly show any signs of his autism. However, my son doesn't wait very well and is easily angered and frustrated when crowded. We have been provided with Guest Assistance Pass to make the couple of hours he can tolerate bearable.

The problem is people remark, give dirty looks and complain about us passing them on line. I have had people argue because they cannot squeeze on a ride with us as he cannot have a tight fit. I even had an employee tell my son he couldn't use the family bathroom because he wasn't handicapped. Needless to say, these negative experiences has caused him to not want to go to Disney anymore. We are Annual Passholders and haven't been to a park in ages and when we do go, he is apprehensive of going.

Has anyone experienced similar issues? And if so, how have you handled it.

Any suggestions on making my magical place more pleasurable for him.
I am not sure how anyone even knows you have the GAC? It can be used very discreetly (we kept it in a plastic protective sleeve and just showed it when asked) as you show it to the CM, and if they ask who is XXX by name, you can simply point.

There are many people whose disabilities are not seen....Ignore Ignorant people and make your OWN magic. Id not let anyone put a damper on your Memory!

I wish you Magic and Happiness!
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:06 PM   #4
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This may not apply, but if you are going at a busy time, can you go when the crowds are lower so you may not need to GAC so bad? Maybe if you went through the regular line and created a buffer zone around him it wouldn't come up? Or is the actual regular line too narrow as well? My daughter does not have any named condition but we need to create space for her and avoid crowds because she just can't handle certain situations.
It's like planning ahead so you don't get stuck in a crowd at a bag check, you may find that changing around your timing and touring plan not only helps you more than the GAC but cuts down on the side effects. If it means that much to you I would try it.
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:08 PM   #5
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I agree with MrsMarilyn ....... puberty was the pits with both of my kids with developmental disabilities. Hormones they are a changin'. You just need to roll with it.

I am a cougar mom from NY .... once a family yelled at me that I was taking up their spot in the disabled seating for the parade at MK. Mind you, they did not have a GAC and the CM refused to let them sit on the curb, but for some reason I got yelled at by them. Upon leaving MK guess who was right next to us on the ferry back to the TTC? You guessed it, the yelling family, who continued to make very loud remarks about my kids. Well, I let them have it with both barrels and suggested (very loudly) that they trade their perfect kids for mine. That shut them up and we saw them in every park during our vacation that year and they ran away from us every time. Guess they could not handle a cougar mom. .
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:53 PM   #6
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How would he do having his own special needs stroller to take some of the stress of being out in the open. It is his safe place while in Disney. That helped our son tremendously.
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Old 04-05-2013, 07:38 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by blondietink View Post
I agree with MrsMarilyn ....... puberty was the pits with both of my kids with developmental disabilities. Hormones they are a changin'. You just need to roll with it.

I am a cougar mom from NY .... once a family yelled at me that I was taking up their spot in the disabled seating for the parade at MK. Mind you, they did not have a GAC and the CM refused to let them sit on the curb, but for some reason I got yelled at by them. Upon leaving MK guess who was right next to us on the ferry back to the TTC? You guessed it, the yelling family, who continued to make very loud remarks about my kids. Well, I let them have it with both barrels and suggested (very loudly) that they trade their perfect kids for mine. That shut them up and we saw them in every park during our vacation that year and they ran away from us every time. Guess they could not handle a cougar mom. .
You rock! I have never had any problems in 25+ trips with my autistic son, but if I did, I would like to think I would be just like you! If we don't advocate for our kiddos, no one else will either!
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:21 AM   #8
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Depending on his cognitive age, and because he is in puberty, where kids hate to be different from peers, I would sit him down and ask what is more important, going to Disney with a GAC card, or standing in lines so others do not see his disability, or staying home. You can explore all kinds of options. See how much much of his opinion he can share, it may take several weeks to come up with a plan.

Our family consists of several disabilities, oldest dd has cp, I am blind, ex husband has PTSD and deaf, and youngest dd has something on the spectrum disorder or mental health we give up trying to even guess. We have mainly focused every year on my blindness and our physical limitations, for a GAC card.

With dd on spectrum/mh we never asked for one, so I can't tell you if that would have made a difference. But about 13 we did run into problems.she can be very ride to people I. Line when she gets bored. She can be very abnoxious standing and waiting. She can bug the crap out of her niece. Anyway, we sat down and made a plan, she is cognitively able, but socially not. She can go in the single rider line as often as she wants, while we go on the ride as a family, that way she does not get as board in the long lines, we set up a meeting place for when we are done, usually she arrives within time minutes or less. She can shop and look in stores in the area.we had a friend with annual passes and we allowed her to bring her friend, girl talk made the long lines possible.

On our last trip in sept, by the way she is now 22, I went to get my GAC card, and while in line dd and dgd was there, dd started to bug dgd, and the CM gave me two GAC cards, one for her. I can mention exactly what I was giving but I realized the first day, that this was a privilege she was going to abuse and at her age she had learned how to deal with lines, so I somehow ( by ripping it up) lost that card in the park.

For you roughing up. I am not rude back to people who make comments, but it hurts. I just tell myself that we deserve what we have or get, no one now sees what we use to go thru as a family. A blind mother, pushing a w/c and taken directions from the 5 year old, and the 5 year old from the w/c is pushing the baby carriage with a toddler (spectrum disorder/mh) who has a tether line and bells on her shoes so she can't run away, next to a dad with a cane and hearing aides and such bad PTSD that he was basically paralyzed. Both of my DD's now go to Disney with no GAC, mine is only for up front seating and dad has one for no stairs, those few moments we get to enjoy are well worth the comments, we have paid our dues. I just take their comments, let it roll off and say a pray that karma does not come back and show them why this family needs a GAC.
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Old 04-05-2013, 10:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blondietink View Post
I agree with MrsMarilyn ....... puberty was the pits with both of my kids with developmental disabilities. Hormones they are a changin'. You just need to roll with it.

I am a cougar mom from NY .... once a family yelled at me that I was taking up their spot in the disabled seating for the parade at MK. Mind you, they did not have a GAC and the CM refused to let them sit on the curb, but for some reason I got yelled at by them. Upon leaving MK guess who was right next to us on the ferry back to the TTC? You guessed it, the yelling family, who continued to make very loud remarks about my kids. Well, I let them have it with both barrels and suggested (very loudly) that they trade their perfect kids for mine. That shut them up and we saw them in every park during our vacation that year and they ran away from us every time. Guess they could not handle a cougar mom. .
Like!
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1/17-1/24 2009 SSR
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:11 AM   #10
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autism and disney

I too have dealt with the vary same issues. I have a 12 year old son with autism. I have received some great advice on forums and hope it may be helpful.
- Bring hand held electronic device to use when in line. when my son uses his he zones out and is less susceptible to stimuli.

- If you can, visit when there are lower crowd levels. We visit in Sept just for that reason.

- Use an ipod or similar music listening device to distract while in line or during high stress part of parks.

- If noise levels are a problem, use the noise canceling earphones.

- Definitely use the GAC card. Bring a doctors letter explaining the specific issues your child has. Just because one child who has autism can get by without using it does not mean all can or should. It is sooo difficult going anywhere with a child who has autism. If there is something offered to lessen that definitely take advantage of it.

- Lastly, I too have had the rude stares, and shocking comments. It is painful to have this occur. Especially given that often our kids feel so negatively about being different, having no friends etc. , so those type of comments just compound there already negative views of themselves. I think most often the comments come from ignorance. On the many autism cites they have printable business cards you can hand out. When people make rude comments you just hand them a card and walk away. The cards are not accusatory or negative. They give a brief explanation of the disorder, and ask for tolerance and some times a link to ASA or Autism speaks is added to so that they can learn more. I think this is beneficial because it spreads awareness.

I hope this helps. The world for our kids is filled with anxiety, suffering, and a sense of not belonging. Often in their teens they are hospitalized due to mental breakdowns. My son just came out of the hospital. The highest rate of suicide amongst teens are those with HFA or Aspergers. My son's first trip to disney last year was such a wonderful treat. Because of the advice of others and Disney's wonderful treatment of those with special needs my son had a magical time. I saw true joy in his eyes. I am so thankful that in the troubled life my son leads he has something special to look forward to each year.

I know this last part is not a tip but, I would like to thank all those wonderful employees of Disney, who go out of there way to make my son feel special. It means so much!
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Old 04-08-2013, 04:55 AM   #11
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I kinda feel funny about this too, dgd doesn't always show obvious signs but she needs it too. although, when she was a little one and standing in lines wasn't very easy, Disney helped her learn. I think it helped her realize there was a prize at the end of the line and it got her attention to try alittle harder to control herself, at times this is not possible though. anyway, she has a special needs stroller that looks a lot like a regular one just bigger. along with GAC, we get a tag to use our stroller as a wheel chair. we don't use it much, but it is there if we need it.
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BibiSmart View Post
I have a 13 year old autistic son whom I have been taking to Disney since he was born. I does not outwardly show any signs of his autism. However, my son doesn't wait very well and is easily angered and frustrated when crowded. We have been provided with Guest Assistance Pass to make the couple of hours he can tolerate bearable.

The problem is people remark, give dirty looks and complain about us passing them on line. I have had people argue because they cannot squeeze on a ride with us as he cannot have a tight fit. I even had an employee tell my son he couldn't use the family bathroom because he wasn't handicapped. Needless to say, these negative experiences has caused him to not want to go to Disney anymore. We are Annual Passholders and haven't been to a park in ages and when we do go, he is apprehensive of going.

Has anyone experienced similar issues? And if so, how have you handled it.

Any suggestions on making my magical place more pleasurable for him.
You know, in all of our trips I don't recall any comments from other guests. I'm sure there must have been some but I just never hear it. I'm too busy with my own family and taking in all that there is to take in to notice or care what others are saying. If I did hear something, I'm actually really mean in a subtle, make the person feel like absolute dirt, kind of way where I partly educate, partly guilt them. I'm rather vicious when I do it but I come across seeming very sweet. It's a gift.

I suppose it also helps that my DD wears her autism like a badge of honour. She's very proud of being autistic because while she understands the difficulties it creates in her life, she also understands the strengths that go with it. She proudly tells anybody who asks that she's autistic and gladly explains it in depth to anybody who gets caught up talking to her (she doesn't pick up on the social cues that tell most people that the person they're speaking with wants to end the conversation so it can go on for quite a while LOL). She's never gone through a period where she wanted to just blend in and be like everybody else. She likes being extraordinary which is how we treat her autism at home.

That CM at the bathroom was 100% out of line. It's a family restroom, not a handicapped parking spot. Anybody can use it with or without a disability. Hopefully most people try to be aware of the fact that it's the only restroom that some people can use (like you for instance; I'm not criticizing your use of it) but a CM is absolutely NOT allowed to say something like that or stop anybody from using it. That should have warranted a complaint to Guest Services. NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!!

The biggest piece of advice is to learn about crowd patterns. Learn how to avoid lines. I really like easywdw.com for this but there are other sites out there as well. By understanding crowd patterns, you can avoid the lines as well as crowds between attractions in the first place. We do use a GAC but not much because it's simply not needed by making sure we get to the attractions when there won't be a line.
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