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Old 04-21-2013, 03:39 AM   #1
cathug10
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Smile Adults with austim tips

Hi there.
In February 2014 my mum,friend and I are going to WDW and Discovery Cove for the first time.

My mum and I both have high functioning autism. My mum can control her autism better than me.

We have considered a GAC for me. Would it be worth it?

Do you have any tips on how to handle adult autism? Would it be the same as some of the child tips?

Sorry for all the questions but I want to be ready for WDW and DC.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:56 AM   #2
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You know your triggers best. You know what you find overwhelming. It's a bit easier for an adult than a child because you can choose to not go into a situation that you may find too much for you, whereas a child may not have a choice.

If you find that having people breathing down your neck is a sensory nightmare, you can request to wait your turn in a different place.

Above all, though, you need to be self-aware and self-advocate.

For what it's worth, of the four parks I find Hollywood Studios to be the least ASD friendly. Least organized layout, poor crowd control, and you're likely to find yourself swept up in a horribly noisy performance or such, or a crowd of people, without any warning.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:58 AM   #3
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Oh, get there for rope drop, using a touring plan (TouringPlans.com is good stuff). Not getting there until an hour or two after parks open is a recipe for disaster.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:08 AM   #4
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My BIL has high functioning autism. I have been to WDW with him twice. We just used a good touring plan and fast passes. If a line looked too crowded, he didn't go in it.

My nephew also has HFA, I have been with him both as a young teen and a young adult (He was 25 the last time.) Again, the touring plan, fastpasses and not putting himself in a situation he knew he couldn't handle. He also went back to the resort with me most afternoons and while I rested, he relaxed in his room and read or swam.

My grandson is a lot more severe in his behaviors. Just taking him to Moody Gardens was difficult. We haven't tried anything Disney yet.
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Old 04-22-2013, 06:10 AM   #5
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Yes, you have the same rights as a child, so if you find situation where your disability prevents you form having equal ability to use the parks attractions, ask for accommodations, by GAC or other means.

In general the best thing you can do is to enjoy the parks at a reasonable pace so as to not get stressed out.
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:37 AM   #6
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I think it really depends on you and your particular issues associated with your autism.

My DD15 has Asperger Syndrome. We get a GAC for her but don't use it often. My goal is to get her to a point where she doesn't need any accomodations because that means she's coping with the issues that interfere with her life better. This is my goal for her for life in general because I know the world won't accomodate her. On vacation I'm willing to accept accomodations because, well, it's vacation, but I do try to keep it to a minimum. We really don't use it often at all. Most of her issues are handled with a detailed touring plan and FPs.

I also have Asperger Syndrome. I've never needed a GAC. My own issues I can take care of by using a detailed touring plan and FPs and by focusing on my coping strategies for situations that are stressful for me.

There are a few attractions we simply don't go to or we split up for so that not everybody goes to them because one or some of us can't handle them. Of course this isn't only due to issues associated with our autism; my DD12 has her own sensory issues that prevent her from being able to do certain attractions and she's not autistic. It just is what it is and there's just no accomodations for certain issues (for example they can't really slow a ride down or turn down the volume so DD12 doesn't freak out and can't stop smells that are disturbingn to DD15).

This is NOT my way of saying don't get a GAC. It's my way of saying that you really need to understand your own issues and figure out what you can handle and what you can't handle. If there are things you determine that you can't handle then talk to Guest Relations about them to find out if there are any accomodations for those issues.
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December 2009 WDW POFQ: me, DH, DD11, DD9 * February 2009 WDW Pop: me, DH, DD11, DD8 * August 2008 WDW SSR: me, DH, DSD25, DSD24, DD10, DD8
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January 1994 WDW offsite: me, DH, DSD11, DSD9 * January 1992 WDW offsite: me, DH, DSD9, DSD7
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clanmcculloch View Post
I think it really depends on you and your particular issues associated with your autism.

My DD15 has Asperger Syndrome. We get a GAC for her but don't use it often. My goal is to get her to a point where she doesn't need any accomodations because that means she's coping with the issues that interfere with her life better. This is my goal for her for life in general because I know the world won't accomodate her. On vacation I'm willing to accept accomodations because, well, it's vacation, but I do try to keep it to a minimum. We really don't use it often at all. Most of her issues are handled with a detailed touring plan and FPs.

I also have Asperger Syndrome. I've never needed a GAC. My own issues I can take care of by using a detailed touring plan and FPs and by focusing on my coping strategies for situations that are stressful for me.

There are a few attractions we simply don't go to or we split up for so that not everybody goes to them because one or some of us can't handle them. Of course this isn't only due to issues associated with our autism; my DD12 has her own sensory issues that prevent her from being able to do certain attractions and she's not autistic. It just is what it is and there's just no accomodations for certain issues (for example they can't really slow a ride down or turn down the volume so DD12 doesn't freak out and can't stop smells that are disturbingn to DD15).

This is NOT my way of saying don't get a GAC. It's my way of saying that you really need to understand your own issues and figure out what you can handle and what you can't handle. If there are things you determine that you can't handle then talk to Guest Relations about them to find out if there are any accomodations for those issues.

This is what I was trying to say, but you expressed it a lot better
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:54 AM   #8
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I wanted to add that the reason it's different for an adult and a child is that adult have had a lot more years to learn their triggers and coping strategies and is generally more self aware than children. Less high functioning adults will need accomodations than high functioning children though that doesn't by any means no adults will need them.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:06 AM   #9
cathug10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clanmcculloch View Post
I wanted to add that the reason it's different for an adult and a child is that adult have had a lot more years to learn their triggers and coping strategies and is generally more self aware than children. Less high functioning adults will need accomodations than high functioning children though that doesn't by any means no adults will need them.
Thanks to everyone for their help.

I really should of added this in the beginning but I am a child in the way that I don't know my triggers and I haven't found any coping strategies .

My psych report says I'm basically a small intelligent child in an adults body.

Well I feel embarrassed. Never thought I'd have to write that.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:17 AM   #10
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I'll be honest. If you mean literally that you have no coping mechanisms at all, none, WDW is not the place for you. It's a sensory nightmare, even for the neurotypicals. It can be very, very difficult for me, and I've got a pretty decent toolbox of functional strategies.

Figure out what you do. Do you stim? How do you stim? Is it something you can slip away and do unobtrusively if you need to?

Have you tried breathing/anxiety exercises?

If you can't identify your triggers and you don't have functioning coping tools, you might want to look at a very different holiday, like a quiet beach vacation. Maybe a little beach house, or a cabin in the woods.

If you don't know what your triggers are and you don't know what you need to avoid them, a GAC is going to be completely useless.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:38 AM   #11
cathug10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThreeBeans View Post
I'll be honest. If you mean literally that you have no coping mechanisms at all, none, WDW is not the place for you. It's a sensory nightmare, even for the neurotypicals. It can be very, very difficult for me, and I've got a pretty decent toolbox of functional strategies.

Figure out what you do. Do you stim? How do you stim? Is it something you can slip away and do unobtrusively if you need to?

Have you tried breathing/anxiety exercises?

If you can't identify your triggers and you don't have functioning coping tools, you might want to look at a very different holiday, like a quiet beach vacation. Maybe a little beach house, or a cabin in the woods.

If you don't know what your triggers are and you don't know what you need to avoid them, a GAC is going to be completely useless.
My mum knows my triggers and will keep me under control. I was fine in DL Paris. I do breathing exercises. The gac is just for incase. I'm also taking calming tablets ( rescue remedy) and they seem to work. I'm not sure of what stimming is but if it is what I think it is I shake my leg and hands.

Thanks for the concern though. This is more of a personal challenge to go than anything else.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:41 AM   #12
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What I mean is that the GAC requires you to be able to say specifically what you need and what you can't handle. Can your mom answer those questions?
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:54 AM   #13
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Do you go out in public? Do you have a job? What do you do if you start freaking out? Unless you have a total meltdown every single time you get anxious then yes you do have coping strategies. You may not be conciously using them but you have them. It's time for you to start working with some kind of autism specialist (could be an occupational therapist, speech & language pathologist or psychologist) who can help you figure out what your coping strategies are as well as some other ones that you haven't considered and to practice them. This same specialist can help you figure out at least some of your triggers. Knowing your triggers will be invaluable to you in life.

I'd recommend you start keeping a detailed journal of what you do, the sensory inputs around you (brief note about each sense: smells; what touches you and what you touch; sounds including volume, consistency, suddenness; sights like lights, brightness, motion around you including speed of things moving around you, proximity of things to you, size of the crowd and relative number of people around you meaning just lots, few, etc; how fast you're moved or moving if that's relevant; etc). Do this for every time you get anxious. You'll hopefully start to see some patterns. At least the autism specialist will be able to see some patterns. For the sake of functioning in your every day life you need to figure out what kinds of things trigger your anxiety and sensory issues.

How do you currently do in crowded places with lots of people around you? Even at slow times of the year at WDW it is still a busy place. There are no accomodations to avoid crowds between attractions and in some attractions you have to be close to a bunch of other people. If you can't handle some place like the mall then you absolutely should follow ThreeBean's advice and consider another vacation destination, at least until you've learned some coping strategies and you biggest triggers.

If you do go to WDW, unfortunately unless you know what you won't be able to handle then there's no way to even request a GAC. You can give a day a try and that'll certainly make it more obvious to you what you can't cope with at which time you can go to Guest Relations and tell them what happened. They'll provide you with a GAC to accomodate those issues if there is an accomodation for those issues.

ETA: I just saw your most recent reply where you said your mum knows your triggers. It would really help you a LOT if you worked with her in teaching you to understand your own triggers. It'll lead to a lot more independence than you must have now.

Stimming is a coping mechanism used by a lot of autistic people. It's things like hand flapping, leg shaking, sniffing, blinking, etc. Basically any kind of repetitive action. It serves the purpose of self-soothing. My 15yo flaps her hands. I bite my nails and shake my legs.

You say the GAC is just in case. Just in case of what? That's the thing, you need to be able to tell Guest Relations just what will happen to prevent you from going to attractions. Saying you need one because you're autistic will do nothing. You have to know what trigger you need help to avoid. Was there anything in DLP that led to issues?
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:56 AM   #14
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What I mean is that the GAC requires you to be able to say specifically what you need and what you can't handle. Can your mom answer those questions?
Yep. We're taking a doctor's note just incase too.
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Yep. We're taking a doctor's note just incase too.
They won't look at it. You or your mom have to tell them what accommodations you need.
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