4yo w/Autism during Spring Break

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by chipsgirl, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. lovethattink

    lovethattink DIS Veteran

    Sep 17, 2004
    You have received some great advice!

    My son is 8 and high functioning. Please feel free to read my Trip Report, it's purple in my signature, it is a perpetual trip report as we go frequently.

    My son always wears a hat to block his view of all the people.
    He uses a medical stroller/wheel chair as his refuge.
    We bring post it notes to put over toilet sensors.
    A flash light or glow stick for if we get stuck on dark attractions.
    A brush for Wilbarger Brushing Protocol.
    Wears earphones to block noise, restaurants are where he has most problems.

    Once he brought a pencil case of the tiniest Lego pieces. He put them together to distract himself.

    He loves Coral Reef. He is just as happy watching the fish from the top level as he is watching them at window level. We usually eat right when the restaurant opens for either lunch or dinner. Once it fills up, it's too much noise for him even with the ear muffs. Ileonna is our favorite server. She knows us and knows he likes his own butter and extra ketchup. She also is great in how she words what she says to him!

    We use him for a gauge of what we can do. Go at his pace. We eat at off times so that there aren't so many people around.

    For example, we learned that we can't go to the F&W Festival on busy nights. He hates darkness and crowds. He did much better on a weeknight with little crowd.

    We skipped character meals for years because of the expense and anxiety. But recently we went to the Tusker House and the Crystal Palace. Both for lunch, when they just started serving lunch. And it went great! We placed him where he could see the characters approaching, so there were no surprises.

    I think you'll be surprised at how wonderful Disney can be. My son is very verbal and he says he loves Disney because it's the one place he feels "normal". Where else can you teach Cinderella and Prince Charming how to use the force?
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  3. MaggieMollyMom

    MaggieMollyMom Mouseketeer

    Jun 18, 2011
    Oh my gosh! that's great! I never thought of covering them with those stickers...i know i end up with pockets full coming home!
  4. tinkerbelletreasure

    tinkerbelletreasure Mouseketeer

    Jan 27, 2010
    2 years ago we took my then 3y/o son who had ASD during spring break and I definitely agree with everyone that stroller as a wheelchair and a GAC were life savers for us!!
    Other than what's already been mentioned we found that it was best to go early in the morning, leave for lunch (cheaper outside of the parks anyway) then nap, or chill out until after dinner and go back. By breaking up the day, he didn't get as overwhelmed. And we ate most of our meals outside of the park which saved us a ton of money. There is a lot to eat within just a few miles of Disney.
  5. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

    Aug 23, 1999
    I found this thread again when I was looking for information about Dining options for character meals.
    clanmcculloch had some good suggestions for a different character meals and seating. I thought they might be of use to some recent posters were looking for that sort of information.
    I wanted to point out that some people with autism actually like those park rental strollers, mostly because they are hard plastic and give a firm seating experience.
    Many people with autism like firm pressure which the harder seat does provide compared to what you would get in a sling seated stroller. The plastic is actually a firm plastic, similar to the type of plastic used in Little Tykes products.

    Many people add additional things to the top of things canopy on the park rental strollers such as a lightweight blankets that they can use to block out sensory input. Some people prefer to rent a double stroller for one child because it provides more space for moving around.

    There is more information about strollers including the park rental strollers, with pictures, and places that you can rent strollers or special-needs strollers. You will find the information in post two of the disABILITIES FAQs. It is near the top of this board or you can follow the link in my signature.

    That thread also has information about Guest Assistance Cards and using strollers as wheelchairs in post number six.

    I also removed a link in this thread to some autism information from allears.net
    Much of the information in that link is incorrect especially in terms of needing a doctors letter.
  6. dadr

    dadr Earning My Ears

    Jan 7, 2013
    Just back from 5 days with our 4yo son with ASD and his older bro and younger sis. This was not supposed to be a high crowd time, but we could not have done it without the GAC...many 45 minute waits for popular attractions which would have been a disaster. Fortunately his favorite ride seemed to be IASW too! We went on it several times.
  7. bookgirl

    bookgirl DIS Veteran

    Oct 22, 2006
    Honestly I'd just plan to have the adults take turns being with your son. Plan all the stuff that his sister would like and when it gets too much whoever is on "son" duty, takes him and goes back to the resort to cool off or play in the pool or just chill in the room or just wander around the park and amuse him at the playgrounds or something. It sucks that an adult may have to miss something but that way your daughter has a good time and he has options that keep him happy. As far as charecter meals, just dont' plan on him going. Have someone take him to do something else or for a meal he likes.
  8. danicaw

    danicaw DIS Veteran

    Oct 5, 1999
    My DS is 9, has ASD and SPD and has been doing wDW with us since he was little.... as his diagnois became evident it changed the way we did WDW.
    The first year after his diagnosis I made cards for each attaction with pictures and basic info. We laminated them and kept them on a ring, so we could re-arrnage our plan as we went - ie. if small world was down, we could move it two back on our plan and keep going. It didn't solve all meltdowns but it was a start. And to be honest I haven't gone to quite that much work since :)
    Now we get him the most recent Birmbaum's Kids book on WDW and he reads and we look at all the rides. For new rides he hasn't seen we watch youtube ride though videos - yes, it "spoils" the surprise, but that is better for him.

    On our last trip he wore a Buzz Lightyear hoodie the whole trip - it was early Dec. One night we braved CRT (DD was 5 and it was really for her), we sat DS in a corner away from the path the princesses used and he kept his hoodie on the whole time. The princesses spoke to him (called him Buzz), but didn't force an interaction. Halfway though dinner DS says to me "my Disguise is working, they think I am Buzz Lightyear" :thumbsup2 I hadn't realized that he was thinking this way at all, and then I realized that all the cast members we ran into called him Buzz. So I picked up a new hoodie for our next trip... Woody this time :)
    I found a site online that has Social Stories for WDW, which were great. We even got DS to do some pin trading! Our experience is that you will have meltdowns and struggles - those happen everywhere. But you will also have moments of great growth. Suddenly kiddo wants to order for himself at a restauraunt or something small, that is really huge :)

    We take the noise reducing headphones and fidgets for his hands. Gum and sour candies. We take a break each day - find some quite time. We start walking more at home a few months before the trip... we ended up walking 20 miles on our last trip to the world - his second trip without a stroller! We haven't done the GAC but always done FP.
    Prepare, then when you get there be flexible... have a WONDERFUL time.

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