Mentally disabled children

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by prittfamily98, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. prittfamily98

    prittfamily98 Mouseketeer

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    Our family is cruising Feb 12-19,2011. I have an mentally disabled DD who will be 18 at the time of cruise. She is 9yo mentality.
    Is She going to be allowed access to the kids area?? Is she going to be able to have fun on the cruise?? Video games and computers and all Disney shows are her favorite.
    What is the policy for special needs kids?? Can she stay with her 12yo and 9 yo siblings?? Can the 12 accompany her to the teen area?? My 12 yo DD is not your typical 12yo. She is in 8th grade.
    HELP!
    (my 9yo DS is going to be happy at the kids club whether his sisters are there or not)
    ANY ADVICE PLEASE...
    The DCL people on the phone were no help at all.
     
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  3. poizenivey

    poizenivey Mouseketeer

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    I'm sure that they will not have any problem assisting your daughter's needs. I would actually call back and ask to speak with a supervisor until you get the answers to the specific questions that you have! You are paying a lot of money to cruise on their boat, the least they could do is help you to plan appropriately for your child and I am sure a supervisor will be more than willing to help you with a plan of action!

    Good luck and I hope that you have a wonderful trip!
     
  4. pluto1979

    pluto1979 DIS Veteran

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    First off, Relax!
    I am sorry to hear that the DCL Cast Members were not helpful to you. As one who has worked on the ship I can assure you that all of our Guest enjoy the cruise; from the dear little ones to the dear little ones at heart. This includes your beautiful daughter with special needs. Hopefully I can answer some of your questions for you:

    As for your 18 year old daughter using the kids club area, they usually do not allow this for safety reasons and they are strict to this policy. However you are always welcomed to ask if you can stay with her while she enjoys her time. In addition, she is welcomed to go the teens area and your other daughter can go if she is acting like a schaperone (sp?).

    For the shows and other entertainment, she will be able to enjoy it all no matter what she attends and goes to. I cannot stress enough how the crew will treat all of your children like little princes and princessess. As will the adults!

    Enjoy your cruise and have a WONDERful vacation!
     
  5. smb6

    smb6 DIS Veteran

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    I can't imagine them letting her in the kids group, but like others mentioned they will probably allow you to go in with her (maybe?). But, I could definately feature them letting your 12 yr old assist her in the teen groups. You may call dcl back, it seems they should be able to give you this information so that it is not a guessing game...... I'm sure she will have fun and be accomodated, but it would be nice for you to know what is allowed ahead of time......
     
  6. abitagirl916

    abitagirl916 Disneymaniac

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    When we took our first Disney cruise in 2007, my mentally disabled DD was 18 years old (about 12 mentally). I contacted DCL at dcl.reservations@disneycruise.com and explained the situation asking if she could participate in the teens club. They responded saying they would contact the Youth Services Manager. I printed out the Medical Form from the DCL site, had her doctor fill it out indicating her mental disability, and faxed it to DCL. I followed up with an e-mail letting them know that I faxed the form. I received the following reply:

    It is so good to hear from you again!
    I'm one step ahead of you. This morning our Special Services Specialist
    contacted me regarding the Medical Information Form that was received in
    their office.
    I, in turn, sent an email to our Youth Activities Manager with your
    cruise information so it could be forwarded to the ship. Rachel is going
    to have a fantastic time!
    We recommend you meet with one of the Youth Counselors once on the ship
    in order to make sure all is in place.
    I hope this information has been helpful. If you require further
    assistance in planning your visit, please feel free to contact us.
    We look forward to sailing with you! Have a Magical Day!
    Wilma
    Reservations Department
    Disney Cruise Vacations​

    Once we were on board, the Youth Activities Manager contacted me and we met with her at the Oceaneers Club. That evening they were showing High School Musical 2 and they encouraged my DD to attend. Although my DD decided not to attend (she wanted to hang with Mom & Dad), DCL was very accommodating in the event she wanted to participate.

    I suggest you go ahead and fax the completed Medical Form explaining your particular situation. They should then respond to you directly.

    Hoping your whole family enjoys your cruise!
     
  7. 3mmm

    3mmm Mouseketeer

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    My daughter is 8 and has Down syndrome. DCL has been great with her and we have put her back an age group in the club, no problem. First time I brought a note from her pediatrician stating what her developmental age is. I know they can't ask for it, but I wanted to have it just in case. I didn't need it. I can certainly understand the upper age limit in the clubs but if kids are still in high school, they can still be in the teen club as I understand it. My daughter will be 19 when she starts her senior year, so we'll see.

    I don't want to be a downer, but I do want to tell you about something we saw on our first cruise when my daughter was barely a year. One afternoon during one of the pool side shows for lack of a better description, there was a young man who was clearly developmentally disabled. They were allowing the children to come up on stage and dance with the characters and this young man did and a cast member escorted him off. It broke my heart at the time as he was definitely having the best time of anyone on the pool deck. At the time it made me sad because I felt that may be our future.

    Now, I have become a very effective advocate for my daughter and I will do everything I can to prevent that from happening to her. If you have a conversation with someone outside of the kids' clubs about your child' needs when you get on the boat, maybe you can prevent this kind of thing from happening. I would be very comfortable today speaking to that cast member, explaining who I talked to, and that my child should be included in whatever is going on. I'm just throwing that out there because if I hadn't seen this situation, I would not know what I need to discuss with the cruise staff.

    Overall, I will say that Disney goes above and beyond when it comes to my daughter, and we don't see that everywhere. Have fun and be empowered to advocate for child. You will always be your child's best advocate.
     
  8. slcmom

    slcmom Mouseketeer

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    I took my ds with Down syndrome (age 19 and low-end) and my dh who has dementia and is in a wheelchair with me on the EBTA last April. Nobody but nobody treats disabled people as well as Disney does!

    Most of the time ds wandered the ship on his own and had a delightful time. Sometimes he got lost and they would call and I'd go get him. They suggested I get a transmitter bracelet like the younger kids wear, which would have made it easier to get hold of me. Next time we'll do that.

    I didn't send him to the teen area because he isn't a teen in any way. I didn't try to send him to the kids' area because he's too old and too big. But we went to every single kareoke event, which he adored. We went to every High School Musical and Hannah Montana event, where they all danced. One time he was the only one who showed up, and the 2 darling cast members held the whole hour activity just for him!

    Many cast members learned his name. The characters fawned all over him in a big way. Everyone, including most other cruisers, were darling and patient with him.

    We had one crazy cruiser who was convinced that ds was trying to sexually molest her dd (ds touched her on the arm) and called ship security. But they handled it very well.

    My only disappointment was that the cast member at the top of the pool slide was adament that he couldn't use it (too tall). Ds didn't understand the problem. She didn't care, just wanted him down. I thought they could have made an exception. She insisted that they never ever made exceptions for 'safety reasons'. It was a real struggle the whole cruise because it was such an attractive nuisance to ds. Imagine my surprise when during the cast talent show there was a video of a couple of the kid counselors (college age) coming down the slide!!! That whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.

    There were at least 4 other mentally disabled children on our cruise. We parents chatted with each other. One boy was about 8-9 years old, totally normal looking, but had autism or something that really effected his impulse control. I was so impressed watching cast members interact with him. They couldn't have been better!

    DS loved the shows - we never missed one. And he loved meeting the entertainers afterwards and having photos taken with them. And he quickly got in the 'celebrity' mode and loved having photographers from the ship anxious to take his photo at every turn, even though we actually purchased very few of them.

    Feel free to pm me if you have concerns. You'll have a great time. I'm already scheming to take us all on another cruise!
     
  9. grlzmom

    grlzmom DIS Veteran

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    I agree, talking to the clubs goes a long way and no one can advocate better than a mom :)

    I'm guessing I'm the one you are referencing above, however I never thought your adult DS was trying to sexually molest my DD. The facts were he followed her all over the ship for 2 weeks, he stole her photos from shutters, he cornered her in the atrium lobby and grabbed her arm, thus necessitating the calling of security for you to come and get him when fellow adult male cruisers were unable to get him to back off. If I left anything out, let me know and I can edit my post. Perhaps you might edit yours for gross inaccuracy.
     
  10. shaylahc1

    shaylahc1 Mouseketeer

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    I am glad that your DS had a good time, and I am sure you must have had your hands full traveling with 2 adults who have special needs. I wanted to comment quickly (especially since I saw a poster above commented on what you had said about your son's behavior). It sounds to me like your son could benefit from having another adult present to help supervise him on future cruises. I would personally be uncomfortable having an adult person with disabilities getting "lost" on the ship. If his mental age is that of a small child, he requires supervision like a small child would. I think it places an unfair burden on the staff and other cruisers to help supervise what is essentially an adult who behaves unpredictably. On the one hand you want staff to accomodate his "youthfulness" by allowing him on the slide, on the other hand you allow him to roam free on the ship (like an adult) where it appears he was causing problems for other cruisers.

    Looking at it from a parent's perspective, too, someone could take advantage of your son's innocence....we were on the EBTA also and one of my DDs (age 9) got lost on the ship (turns out she was sitting at another table in the dining room coloring with a friend....) but let me tell you....that was the longest 30 minutes of my life. Even though I know most cruisers are Disney fanatics just there to enjoy the ship with their families, it is essentially a ship full of strangers. Who is to say someone might not take advantage of an unsupervised child (or mentally challenged person). I think supervision is very important for any child on a ship, and especially important when you have an adult who is mentally disabled.
     
  11. Dicecatt

    Dicecatt DIS Veteran

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    This sounds very inappropriate. If he has the mind of a child, why would you allow him to wonder around and get lost? He could get scared...if he is the size of an adult, other people could get scared and inconvenienced. It is an extreme liability for everyone involved. DCL in general isn't responsible for keeping track of your son, you are. It is one thing for you to allow your son to enjoy himself. It is quite another to do it at the expense of other cruisers. Do you let your child wander around your city alone? Why is a cruise any different? It is full of strangers, and that seems really irresponsible of you. Your son could be in detriment with this behavior.

    I have children of all ages, and I would be very uncomfortable with your son wandering around, getting lost, with no supervision.
     
  12. sabrecmc

    sabrecmc DIS Veteran

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    I would probably cross-post this question on the DISabilities board, if you haven't already done so. They are an outstanding resource.

    It sounds like the thing to do is have your doctor fill out the Medical Information Form and then contact Disney after you've sent that in to follow up and make sure everything is in place. I think, particularly for a child that age, it must be a partnership with DCL and the family working together to make sure the child has access to the activities and fun while also maintaining a safe environment for both the child and other cruisers who are not as experienced as your family and don't know your daughter's limitations and abilities. I don't know if they would consider even the most responsible 12 year old to be an adequate chaperone, but that's what you need to clarify with them. I'm sure your family will have a great time, but it will definitely be easier on you to demand some clarification ahead of time. I'm sorry the DCL cast member didn't refer you to someone a bit more helpful, but I would continue to call back and ask to speak with a supervisor or get your TA to call, if you have one. Good luck and happy sailing!
     
  13. ladyleslie

    ladyleslie Mouseketeer

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    <<<<Do you let your child wander around your city alone? Why is a cruise any different? It is full of strangers, and that seems really irresponsible of you. >>>>>

    In reference to this remark.....

    I just wanted to mention I am just off the Disney Wonder (a week now) and the entire length of the three day cruise, I saw (and heard) children running up and down the ship until about 12:30am - and the youngest of those kids had to be at least 6 years of age..... (and yes I know all about the quiet hours being from 10pm till 8am) So for someone to say "yeah I let my adult child with a younger Mental Age than he looks free range of the ship...." that doesnt sound any different from what I experience having just come off the Wonder.

    Some parents are totally comfortable with the ship environment to cut their children more freedom than they would at home. Its a parenting style .... I don't share that style of parenting but I can accept that some do..... To each is own and live and let live and all that jazz.....

    ((Sigh - Okay that part is over with))


    Back to the real topic at hand -
    as a teacher of developmentally challenged children and
    the sibling of five disabled siblings (to various degrees) and also
    the parent of a LD child -

    Id like to appauld the orignally poster - for undertaking this big vacation -which can sometimes be overwhelming (at least it was for me) - In my teaching experience many to most of my children (and I use that word only to describe the mental age) at work dont get the oppurtunity to come out of their homes to explore "the world outside" - my parents prefer to keep their children, virtually "shut in" - at home.

    As the other posters said - call DCL back and ask to speak with a supervisor, ask to speak to their supervisor, and keep calling till you get a definte / concrete answer, be prepared to negotiate (your willing to stay or member of your family is ready to stay with your daugther during some of the activities) -

    Here in NYS after age 18, guardianship papers are needed for persons with low Mental Ages - its legal and binding document that states my siblings disability (and has got my parents out of pinch in certain cases) - if you have one (or something similar) be prepared to present it.....

    get the doctors note describing the mental age or An IEP (individualized Education Plan or your states equivalent) thats also a legal and binding document that can attest to the needs of your child,
    and be prepared to advocate (squeeky wheel gets the oil and all of that)

    If it all goes south - be prepared to come up with a back up plan - call DCL back up and ask for navigators in advance so you can assist in planning your daugther's days with events from the family activities section....

    Good luck and after all of that remember - this is your vacation too.... ;)

    Good speed and all the best -

    and Don't forget to write back and let us know what you ended up doing and how it went.
     
  14. Emsabems

    Emsabems Earning My Ears

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    OP - we leave next Saturday for 4 days in the wonder. My brother is 36 with CP... Mentally about 9. I'm expecting a wonderful experience (as we've always had at WDW) but will post when we get back.

    Cross your fingers for us :)
     
  15. grlzmom

    grlzmom DIS Veteran

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    Lots of pixie dust your way that you all have a wonderful cruise!
     
  16. slcmom

    slcmom Mouseketeer

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    I certainly misspoke (who thought I'd ever use that horrible word) when I said that my ds wandered the ship alone. Very occasionally he would be alone; like if we were going up to deck 9 to eat, he'd sometimes head up there 15 minutes before I had dh dressed and ready, but we'd meet him up there immediately. Similarly, when we were eating in Luminere's, and he finished dessert early, he sometimes went out to see the characters in the atrium until we were done. Again, a matter of minutes. Which was the situation when grlzmom was so concerned. Those little tastes of independence were wonderful for him, and something that he never has at home. They seemed fairly innocuous to me.

    I'm sorry that I called the poster a crazy woman. I try hard not to judge anyone, and it was unfair of me to assign that adjective to her.

    I realize that there are still lots of people who are afraid of mentally disabled people and would prefer never to see them and have to interact with them. Perhaps grlzmom and her dd fall into that category. Unfortunately, ds is not good at picking up those cues. We, and his teachers, spend hundreds of hours working with him to respect people's private space and not touch. Obviously it is an ongoing project.

    After the incident I was very very concerned, and interviewed all the cast members who had been present. I think I received an accurate picture. Obviously, I wasn't there, and only have the information they provided. My memory is that at the time the mom did talk of assault, sexual molestation, and jail time.

    Ds did take a photo from Shutters. As soon as we saw it we took him to return it. We would have done that no matter who the photo was of, because we don't condone taking things that are not ours.

    I would be very surprised to know that ds stalked this girl for 2 weeks, because we were with him at least 23 hours of each 24.

    Thanks for listening to me rant. We all tend to become agitated when we feel our children are misrepresented or threatened.
     
  17. shaylahc1

    shaylahc1 Mouseketeer

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    That is a very unfair statement. If my daughter had my arm grabbed by a strange adult (any adult, mentally disabled or not) I would be upset also. It has nothing to do with being afraid or not wanting to interact with a person who has a mental disability. As I said before, it sounds like your son could have benefited from more supervision. Those types of incidents (the arm grabbing and the photo stealing) never would have happened if your son was being supervised. You make it seem as though anyone who doesn't "enjoy" those types of interactions must be prejudiced against mentally disabled people or something:confused3 Stealing, subjecting people to unwanted touching, those are all 100% preventable. In the future I recommend traveling with another adult who can supervise your son 100% of the time. It seems he isn't ready for that type of freedom and independence.
     
  18. Dicecatt

    Dicecatt DIS Veteran

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    SLCMom, I can respect the fact that you want your son to enjoy life to the fullest extent. However, I feel that you are deflecting...acting like this is some kind of prejudice instead of what it is...no adult should touch anyone, let alone a teenager, grab them, or steal. If your son is inclined to do those things, which apparently he is (and I'm not blaming him for it), he needs supervision all the time.

    You say you think you received an accurate picture, but then say you weren't there. So, if while you were away from him for that hour a day he did all that (and more that I think you are leaving out), perhaps that is an hour a day that is too long.

    Those with disabilities should have accomodations made, but not to the threat of others, or breaking the law (which is what your son did when he stole).

    You, and he, are not entitled to enjoy yourselves at the expense of other people. His feeling of freedom isn't more important that that girl that he obviously scared. And perhaps if you were around him more, the stalking for two weeks wouldn't have happened.

    You are the one, after all, who clearly posted that he wandered around, sometimes got lost, and then staff had to call you. Repeatedly. What was mistated?
     
  19. grlzmom

    grlzmom DIS Veteran

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    Only facts here

    1. It was over 45 minutes and approximately 11pm before guest services/security were able to locate you.

    2. As for what my dd and/or I am afraid of, anyone that knows us knows how ridiculous that sounds as we have disabilities in our own family.

    3. Yes, I did mention assault. That is what occurred when your adult ds grabbed my minor dd by the arm. He also grabbed an adult male standing between him and my dd.

    4. Thank you for admitting he stole her photo from Shutters. My dd was quite embarrassed hearing what he was doing with the photo in public.

    5. I stand by the stalking.

    I messaged you privately to ask you to edit your inaccurate/slanderous post but you didn't respond. You need to accept responsibility for your sons lack of supervision and inappropriate behavior resulting from that lack of supervision.

    I think this thread needs to get back on topic of CHILDREN on DCL with disabilities.

    You are welcome to pm me if you need to clarify anything.
     
  20. smb6

    smb6 DIS Veteran

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    I think we should just try to put ourselves in others shoes..... If my dd 9 was being pulled on by an adult male (mentally disabled or not) I would not be comfortable with it. Upon finding out the information, I would certainly be forgiving- but not thrilled. No one wants their child to be made uncomfortable.
    On the opposite side- the 19yr old mentally disabled boy (according to mom) has the same problem many kids have- not a good since of personal boundaries/space. If a young child had done the same, it would have been viewed differently and I'm quite certain your son meant no harm. But, he is not a young child and it does make for difficult situations that I'm sure you deal with on a regular basis. Without reading back through- I believe his mental level was said to be of a 9 year old, many 9 yr olds are allowed to go places on the ship alone, by there parents. Some 9 yr olds are mature enough to do so, others are not..... only you know your child best. Sometimes it takes trial and error.... If there were one or two isolated incidences, maybe he should continue to be allowed a little freedom, if the problems were more regular, maybe he needs a little more supervision. Just as any parent would (mentally disabled child or not)- sometimes we just need to evaluate things and decide what to do next time....
    I can sincerely see both persons points- I would have been concerned for my dd and not wanted her to be put in that situation again. I also understand that the 19yr old meant no harm. On a side note- I'm glad the 9yr old was responsible enough to seek help from a CM when she felt uncomfortable.....
     
  21. pluto1979

    pluto1979 DIS Veteran

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    I feel that I must comment on all of this that is being said and brought to light.

    First and foremost, you have a very special and wonderful young man!
    With that being said I think there are a few things that I might be able to shed light on.

    The slide: there is a height limit for the use of the slide and even I cannot go on it. It is a safety issue and something that Disney holds firm to as well as every CM. This height restriction is also implemented in our theme parks across the world.

    The kids area: is typically meant for young kids and the activities might bore him. The age restriction is also meant for the safety of all the kids. I am not sure that your son would fit into this group since he is on the cusp of things.

    The teens area: While he is still a teen he is of age to use the adults area. Again he might enjoy the teen area and I believe this is the area you should ask to allow him to visit with your supervision. I do not think that your daughter should be responsible for him in case something goes wrong. In addition I do not believe that she would be allowed into this area.

    In conclusion, I believe that both parties involved in on a previous cruise should try to remember those things that made your trip such as the family bonds you strengthened, shows you all saw, pools and oceans you swam in and wonderful dinners you had! Those memories should outshine and be cherished. Do not let this event cast a shadow or ruin the Disney Magic! Of course we all know that name-calling is not going to help things either.

    It might be great to start showing your son all the things that he CAN do and enjoy as a Young Man.

    I hope I have not offended anyone and wish everyone the best and to enjoy all future cruises.
     

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