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Old 09-11-2013, 07:37 AM   #1
nydisneygirl1975
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GAC for Anxiety

My husband has anxiety and experiences panic attacks. Would he have to get a drs note for him to get a GAC?
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:57 AM   #2
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Follow the link in my signature to the disABILITIES Board ( you can also find it stuck near the top of this board).
Post 6 of that thread is everything you might want to know about GACs (Guest Assistance Cards). You don't need a doctor's note, but he does need to be prepared to explain his needs.

In addition, there is a post on page 2 of the disABILITIES FAQs thread that lists attractions people with claustrophobia and issues with closeness have felt were problematic for them.

Even if you get a GAC, a touring plan can help a great deal. The most often recommended websites are www.touringplans.com and www.easywdw.com

Those websites come up with very detailed touring plans, but you don't need to follow them exactly (or even at all) to get benefits from a touring plan. You can use the basic information about which park is likely to be the busiest - avoiding that park will help you to avoid crowds. And, information about which part of that park is going to be helpful, even if you don't go on the attractions the plan is recommending for that one period.
Knowing which areas are likely to be most busy can help you avoid those parts.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:12 AM   #3
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GAC is need-based, not diagnosis-based. A doctor's note will have no impact and they may refuse to look at it. You and he will need to think through the challenges he may encounter at WDW, and then ask Guest Relations if there are any accommodations that can be offered to help in such situations. Keep in mind that the GAC is not an automatic front-of-the-line pass, nor is it intended to shorten waits (some may be shorter, some longer, depends on many variables). There is not a lot of space in lines or even alternate wait areas can become crowded and noisy, there are few if any places to sit while in line.

Sue has suggested a touring plan and use of Fastpasses. We find this to be more helpful than a GAC for my family's needs. Going at less-busy times of year is also key to our experience.

Enjoy your vacation!
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:22 PM   #4
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I have an anxiety and panic disorder as well and I wonder if your concern is that should a panic attack hit and you have to leave a line perhaps there is a way you might return to the line instead of starting at the end?

At least, this was my worry prior to my first time. It seems like that is exactly the kind of request a GAC card might be good for and discuss this with guest relations. Thankfully I manage my panic attacks quite well with klonopin and liquor, but I am sympathetic to your husbands condition.
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:46 PM   #5
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I have an anxiety and panic disorder as well and I wonder if your concern is that should a panic attack hit and you have to leave a line perhaps there is a way you might return to the line instead of starting at the end?

At least, this was my worry prior to my first time. It seems like that is exactly the kind of request a GAC card might be good for and discuss this with guest relations. Thankfully I manage my panic attacks quite well with klonopin and liquor, but I am sympathetic to your husbands condition.
The logistics of this is just not possible given the set up of most lines. To get out you would have to find a cm (not always possible), swim upstream so to speak to get out, and then when you are ready to return, excuse yourself through dozens of people to where you were. This would be difficult even if you had a cm to assist you, which you probably wouldn't.
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Old 09-12-2013, 08:16 AM   #6
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For over a year now I have had no problem getting a GAC for my anxiety. I typically walk up, say I need a GAC, and that I have an anxiety disorder. I am a local so I have done this several dozen times and never had a problem up until this past Monday.

The guy at guest services looked at me and simply said "Anxiety is not a disability". I then requested to speak with someone else. The woman proceeded to tell me they are changing their policies to those with a physical disability are the only ones able to get a GAC, and physical meaning you cannot do stairs or have trouble with changing surfaces. I explained that this is not an issue with wait time, but an issue with the amount of people around me in the small que lines. She then said, since we had five in out party, for me to put two people in front of me and two behind me and have them leave space for me to have my own bubble. At this point I was shaking, and my anxiety was about to boil over. In the end she gave me the GAC but told me very soon I will not be able to get one.

I was flabbergasted at how insensitive they were to the situation and how flat out rude they were.

The comment about "physical" disabilities irritated me also. So are children with autism no longer going to get a GAC? Are other highly functioning people with mental disabilities going to be required to wait in the long lines? People with heart conditions also would no longer be eligible for a GAC.
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Old 09-12-2013, 11:54 AM   #7
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For over a year now I have had no problem getting a GAC for my anxiety. I typically walk up, say I need a GAC, and that I have an anxiety disorder. I am a local so I have done this several dozen times and never had a problem up until this past Monday.

The guy at guest services looked at me and simply said "Anxiety is not a disability". I then requested to speak with someone else. The woman proceeded to tell me they are changing their policies to those with a physical disability are the only ones able to get a GAC, and physical meaning you cannot do stairs or have trouble with changing surfaces. I explained that this is not an issue with wait time, but an issue with the amount of people around me in the small que lines. She then said, since we had five in out party, for me to put two people in front of me and two behind me and have them leave space for me to have my own bubble. At this point I was shaking, and my anxiety was about to boil over. In the end she gave me the GAC but told me very soon I will not be able to get one.

I was flabbergasted at how insensitive they were to the situation and how flat out rude they were.

The comment about "physical" disabilities irritated me also. So are children with autism no longer going to get a GAC? Are other highly functioning people with mental disabilities going to be required to wait in the long lines? People with heart conditions also would no longer be eligible for a GAC.
I thought a GAC isn't intended to shorten waits.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:38 PM   #8
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You don't need a doctor's not, and the CM's won't read one if you bring it. Even if the ADA allowed it, it wouldn't help because your doctor doesn't know what the rides are like and how your condition prevents you from accessing them.

What you do need to do is tell them your specific needs in detail. Telling them a diagnosis doesn't help, because they're not medical professionals and don't understand what the diagnosis entails, anyway. Then they can decide which stamp will allow you access.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by iluvasoldier View Post
The comment about "physical" disabilities irritated me also. So are children with autism no longer going to get a GAC? Are other highly functioning people with mental disabilities going to be required to wait in the long lines? People with heart conditions also would no longer be eligible for a GAC.
I think a heart condition is a physical disability.

Anyway I have been in regular contact with someone in guest experiences about the GAC changes and people with autism are being considered as a group, and as a separate entity than those with physical disabilities. The person I have been speaking with didn't have specifics, or just wouldn't tell me until they are official, but they are putting extra effort and consideration into their plan for families dealing with autism.

I'm curious to see what the changes are. We are going in Oct and Dec and are going to focus on a touring plan, FP+ and FP- with our son hoping to get away from a need for a GAC not knowing how it will work in the future.

I was told that the new guidelines will be announced at the beginning of October.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:58 PM   #10
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I thought a GAC isn't intended to shorten waits.
It's not, but having some anxiety issues myself, I can see how even the idea or appearance of a long line, surrounded by people and not able to get out, can exacerbate anxiety/panic issues. An alternate waiting area can be very helpful, but this isn't always available.

Last edited by infopurposesonly; 09-12-2013 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:00 PM   #11
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This may come off as insensitive, I don't mean it that way. It's a paraphrase of a reflection I had some time ago that left me happier for having had it.

There does come a point when you are simply asking too much of the place. I understand that I have a condition that will occasionally force me to leave an area for 10-30 minutes while the panic attack abates. But realistically, what could Disney do that would ensure that I would only ever have to wait in line once or that if my panic attacks were triggered by other people, that I would not be surrounded by strangers while waiting for a ride? Disney did not cause my anxiety disorder, I have to accept that making my day in the park as perfectly worry free as everyone else's is not Disney's responsibility.

The logistics of dropping out of and then returning to a line are prohibitive, and anything that would keep the people away creates a burden on them or a benefit to me that the rest of the guests do not have access to. The ADA is intended to require businesses do whatever is reasonable to bring the experience a disabled person has up to the same level as a non-disabled.

Would I like a private waiting room away from the crowds so that I can go on a ride without bustling along with everyone else? Sure I would, that would all but guarantee a panic attack free experience. But most other people would also like a private waiting room for their ride. Reasonable accommodation for my particular needs should not include conferring me a special privilege.
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Old 09-12-2013, 05:06 PM   #12
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I think a heart condition is a physical disability.

Anyway I have been in regular contact with someone in guest experiences about the GAC changes and people with autism are being considered as a group, and as a separate entity than those with physical disabilities. The person I have been speaking with didn't have specifics, or just wouldn't tell me until they are official, but they are putting extra effort and consideration into their plan for families dealing with autism.

I'm curious to see what the changes are. We are going in Oct and Dec and are going to focus on a touring plan, FP+ and FP- with our son hoping to get away from a need for a GAC not knowing how it will work in the future.

I was told that the new guidelines will be announced at the beginning of October.
Disney cannot offer 'people with autism' extra consideration (if that means services not offered to the public) without violating part of sec 12182 of the ADA. So I'm not sure what they have planned, but it can't be a special service. It just has to offer an opportunity of equal access.
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Old 09-12-2013, 05:30 PM   #13
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Disney cannot offer 'people with autism' extra consideration (if that means services not offered to the public) without violating part of sec 12182 of the ADA. So I'm not sure what they have planned, but it can't be a special service. It just has to offer an opportunity of equal access.
Only repeating what I was told. What it means in the long run who knows.

I was also told we would have no problem getting a GAC for my son, we would just be using it different.

Last edited by ratlenhum; 09-12-2013 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:51 PM   #14
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. The woman proceeded to tell me they are changing their policies to those with a physical disability are the only ones able to get a GAC, and physical meaning you cannot do stairs or have trouble with changing surfaces. .
There is going to have to be more to it. That won't stop teenagers who rent wheelchairs and fake it, or those who are legitimately disabled renting out themselves and use of their GAC
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:40 PM   #15
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As someone with depression, anxiety (especially in crowds), and OCD I am not 100% sure what a GAC could do. They do not shorten lines and even the "alternate" wait areas can be quite crowded. I have found that having a good touring plan and using FP does more for my problems then anything a GAC could do. Also, the GAC is only good for attractions and shows. Most of the places I had issues with were in restaurants or on crowded walk ways.
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