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Special Needs Teens--Be aware

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by afoyt, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. afoyt

    afoyt Disney51

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    Having arrived home from a 4day cruise aboard the Dream. I wanted to bring to the attention of parents with Special Needs Teens, Disneys policy. I have a 14yr old son with Down Syndrome. As he is 14, he is not allowed into the supervised areas of the Oceaneers Lab. His 12yr old brother is, and even though Zach is the same size as his brother, and mentally he is around 6yrs old, he is not allowed in the Oceaneers Lab. Zach is allowed in he teen club Edge, his brother was also allowed in Edge. Edge is a lightly supervised area, where the teens are allow to come and go as they please. After talking with one of Disney's counselors, her asst. manager, then the Manager. They assigned a counselor to Zachary. Lucky, for me my 12yr old volunteered to keep an eye on his brother while in Edge. It was a good thing he did as Zachary was still able to go downstairs unaware of the Counselor assigned to him. My 12yr old noted he was missing and they found him by the icecream machine downstairs from Edge.
     
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  3. Night Owl

    Night Owl Earning My Ears

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    Thank goodness for your younger son keeping an eye on his older bro. I have concerns about special needs too, as my oldest is 12 and is visually impaired. I was wondering if Disney kid clubs has any real experience with children who have special needs.
     
  4. kristinfly2

    kristinfly2 Mouseketeer

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    Thank you for posting this. We have a special needs daughter who turns 10 in a few days. We got back from our first DCL cruise two weeks ago. She had a great time in the club and the counselors were really great with her! DH wanted to wait to do another cruise in two years, but when I pointed out that she was going to age out of the club in two years, he agreed we should go once a year until then! :). A DCL cruise is very expensive for us as we are a family of 8 and even though we only took the 4 youngest, we have to book two rooms. It is so worth the scrimping and saving we will be doing all year to have a vacation that all the kids will enjoy! I have no idea where we will go when Sarah ages out of the club/lab.
     
  5. kristinfly2

    kristinfly2 Mouseketeer

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    Our 10 yo is hearing and developmentally impaired and the counselors did a great job with her! Really kept her engaged! I did not see any visually impaired kids on our cruise so I am not sure how they will handle it.

    The one area where I felt DCL really let us down was that I called DCL several times to make sure our daughters special needs were noted. I ordered the hearing impaired equipment for our room and was told there would be special equipment for her in the shows. When we got to port and I got the kids their mickey bands, there was nothing listed in her preregistration and when we got on board the equipment wasn't there. It all worked out, but I was disappointed. :(
     
  6. MAJPLO

    MAJPLO DIS Veteran

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    It breaks my heart to hear that a child, particularly one with special needs, could be overlooked to this point. Soooo unsafe and frightening. I hope there was an acceptable apology and then some!
     
  7. moomy-san

    moomy-san I'd rather be in O'Gills.

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    I remember a situation a while ago where a special needs person (i believe an adult) was allowed into areas that were technically against policy (due to his age) because he was socially delayed. Something very scary happened with a young girl and there was a lot of speculation and blame being thrown around. I don't think there is really a right answer when this question comes up. I think Disney tries to stick to the rules even when it inconveniences a guest. I am sorry in this situation that the rules may have endangered the older son.
     
  8. lindylou2_2002

    lindylou2_2002 Mouseketeer

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    thats a shame as Disney do have signers working for them and when my friends sailed they had a signer at the shows standing at the front so she could see and understand what was going on. He also spent time with her on the ship too.
     
  9. kristinfly2

    kristinfly2 Mouseketeer

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    It was very disappointing! :( I have a lot of friends who used to be CMs in the parks and they had told me how great DCL was with special needs. I have heard rumors that DCL has been really cutting back on these services. That being said we all had a great time and are going to book for next year! :)

    I agree with the other posters about keeping the age restrictions. I would not feel comfortable leaving our kids in the club with older more physically mature kids no matter what their mental age. We will just have to look for other vacation options once Sarah ages out of the clubs. I am sure I will find some great ideas on these boards. I have already gotten so much good info! :)
     
  10. Wadekind

    Wadekind DIS Veteran

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    DCL does excellent with special needs and requests but I don't think any cruise line provides a dedicated caretaker.
    Sometimes with all the talk of pixie dust on these boards the reality doesn't match the build up.
    Good heads up on tempering expectations and planning.
     
  11. kristinfly2

    kristinfly2 Mouseketeer

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    Um I wasn't expecting a dedicated caregiver for my daughter. I was expecting the things the cm told me were available when I called. I just wanted to give everyone else traveling with someone hearing impaired the heads up that none of the things they told me they were going to supply were available on the magic on our sail date.
     
  12. ededmd

    ededmd Mouseketeer

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    Reading this whole thread it would seem wadekind was responding generally and perhaps specifically to the OP but not specifically to you.
     
  13. Wadekind

    Wadekind DIS Veteran

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    In a thread the responses usually are referring to the OP unless another post is quoted like I am doing to you here. Read the first post to take my response in context.

    What specific equipment/things were you expecting to be supplied and how was "it all worked out" as you stated in your other post?
     
  14. MillauFr

    MillauFr Buzz & Woody

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    My wife and I had our 11yo son with Down Syndrome on the DCL Wonder last August. We hung out in the Edge with him when they had open house hours. He loved playing and watching others play the video games. He didn't care for the more organized activities. The other times the kids could just come and go and didn't have to check in and check out. That didn't work for him as he would probably just leave and wander the ship.

    He also tried the Lab but I felt nervous having him hang around younger kids. He can be pushy around smaller kids so we didn't have him hang out there. Most of the time on the ship he just hung around with us in the room. The staff on the ship were great with him but they just didn't have enough counselers to have one person watch him in the kids clubs.
     
  15. kristinfly2

    kristinfly2 Mouseketeer

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    We were promised an equipment package for our room for hearing impaired guests. It included a light to know when some one was at the door, a special phone and a vibration alarm for the Bed As I stated before DCL CMs on the phone also told me there would be a sign interpreter for the shows. Her hearing impairment and developmental delays were also supposed to be noted for the CMs in the club. I called three times, faxed the form and noted it myself in the online registration.
    It all worked out because we had her sleep in our room instead of in the connecting room with our three other kids who came. She also wasn't interested in the shows so that didn't become an issue.
    Like I said the CMs in the club were great with her! :) But was also disappointed that the other equipment wasn't available. She was very disappointed that she couldn't sleep with her sisters and brother in the "kids" room. Even with the connecting doors wide open, we decided better safe than sorry.
     
  16. MAJPLO

    MAJPLO DIS Veteran

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    My kids are much younger so maybe I just don't understand the Edge system yet, but.... I don't understand WHY for a child with special needs they couldn't simply say this 11 year old cannot check himself out and call your wave phone if he wanted to leave. Sorry. Maybe it's the teacher in me that feels the need to be FLEXIBLE and provide children with special needs what they NEED to be happy, safe, and successful.

    Sorry. Done ranting now.
     
  17. Wadekind

    Wadekind DIS Veteran

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    Sounds like DCL really dropped the ball on this one. I wouldn't be happy either after the effort you put in to make sure things would be provided.
     
  18. neg58

    neg58 DIS Veteran

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    Part of the attraction of Edge and Vibe is that the teens can come and go as they want to, without parents having to check them in or out. I LIKE that part, as I don't want to always have to go get the kids, or okay it for them to go get food or a drink. The staffing is not such that they can check kids in and out.

    I understand the restrictions on older kids going to clubs with younger ones. My daughter, 16, would have loved to have been in with the 4 year olds, meeting princesses and playing games, but I understand why the parents of those 4 year olds don't want teens running in and out of the place where they've left their small children. The older kids are rougher, may not behave, may talk and act like teens. My daughter would have been perfect (of course!) but if they made an exception for her, they'd have to make an exception for all the 13 and 15 year olds.

    One thing I really liked about DCL is the 'no exceptions' for kids rules. My daughter would be fine at Palo or Remy. She's sit quietly by the adult pool, wouldn't be an interruption at the adult spa or in any of the clubs. But the rules are the rules, and if they made an exception for her, they'd have to make one for the 15 year old who may not be quite so well behaved in a restaurant, it might make someone uncomfortable to hear jokes in an adult club when kids are around. I hate it when women bring their 7 year old boys into the locker room at the health club when the rules clearly say none over 5, and I don't care if they have special needs or not. I'm a customer too.

    We really feel like there is no pool for us to enjoy because the family pools are too wild and she can't go to adult pool. Those are the rules. She tried Vibe and didn't really like it as we aren't big on video games (as I said, she'd have rather been in the Kids Club or lab), so there was no "club" for her. We just did other things.

    I don't think DCL should promise accommodations and then not meet them, like with the interpreter or alarms. I would have tried to fix that with Guest Services.

    N
     
  19. afoyt

    afoyt Disney51

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    I sent Disney a letter expressing my concerns. I also sent them a copy of the other parents concerns listed here on this forum. Disney sent back a letter of apology, basically stating that they would look into the concerns, but nothing would be changed for now. It also stated that maybe later in the future something could be done to better meet the needs of the special needs child. As for us, I still have my reservation for next year on the Fantasy, but I have recently learned of a "Buddy Cruise" that is geared toward the DS child, it may be a better fit for us.
     
  20. Hrhpd

    Hrhpd DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the heads up. We will be traveling with friends who have a child with Down syndrome. I will let them know to check this out before we select a cruise line,
     
  21. kcashner

    kcashner DIS Veteran

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    For the hearing impaired cruiser--I don't know what happened, but it does sound like DCL dropped the ball. They have specified cruises where there are already arrangements in place for interpreters, and normally will "do their best" to book a team of interpreters for other cruises. We've enjoyed several cruises where we were able to sit across the aisle from the area reserved for the families needing the interpreters' services and really loved watching them. My daughter has studied ASL for several years and Angela (one of the interpreters) was very sweet to show her some of their Disney signs, etc. We've also seen the interpreters dining with the family when they were on board for one individual--how much/little time they spend with the family and which activities they interpret is up to the family. Generally they do the shows; from there, if needed for only one person or family, they can spend time in the kid programming, at family activities, or whatever as needed.

    I'm really sorry that DCL didn't come thru for you as promised.

    As to allowing a developmentally delayed individual into a younger age group--as noted in one of the above posts, that is exactly what resulted in the more strict policies that went into effect in December, 2011. It is unfortunate that one (rather serious by reports) incident could ruin it for everyone, but that's what the DCL legal department decided. The policy has always stated that one on one supervision/care is not available in the programming. It sounds like you should be very proud of your 12 year old; seems he went above and beyond for his brother. I don't know what the "right" answer should be as each kid involved has individual issues to be managed.
     

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