Teenager with Autism...tips?

Go with your gut, you know best what he is capable of. I went last year with my son who has Asperger's, he was 15 at the time. He struggles in new situations, but I know I can make it easier on him by making a plan and sticking to it as much as possible. So that's what we did. I also allowed him his space to decompress, didn't force him to spend every moment with us. We avoided any major meltdowns by letting him walk away/go back to the hotel room/sit things out, no questions asked.

And I agree with what others said about doing things in small doses. My son can't handle vacationing from rope drop to fireworks, it's too much stimulation, too many people, too stressful. Just make sure everyone in your party is on board with that ahead of time; on our last trip we took my mother and she did nothing but complain about all the breaks we were taking. No surprise, since she is also in denial about my son's diagnosis!

Forgot to mention that my son refused the DAS. It just made him very uncomfortable. I think we could have done more with it, but I try to respect his opinions, especially about things that directly affect him. He felt very strongly that he didn't want one so we didn't get it. We still had fun.

Thank you for the info. We are planning on park days to do mornings, with a sit down lunch (with the Kindle to let my SS decompress because he probably won't eat a lot at the restaurant), then back to the hotel until evening. And interspersed with the park days we have one day of just pool/lounging, one day of nothing in the morning, and one day of really not sure yet... playing it by ear. Some of the group may go to Kennedy Space Center while I take the toddler to do more of the "kiddie" rides at MK. It's the last day so we will see how everyone is faring by then.

ETA: We are probably going to get the DAS. We are worried, besides his impulse control issues, that he will fixate on the ride while in line and cause himself so much anxiety while waiting that he then won't ride when we get to the ride. He has the potential to actually make himself sick for the rest of the day. So when my husband and I discussed it, the DAS would probably be best.
He use to use his tablet (and we got a couple snarky remarks about kids being at Disney on tablets) but never has he been told the same thing about a phone (maybe because those same people have their nose in a phone as well?!?!?!?). Anyway, I told somebody when she made a remark to her party in a way to make sure I heard something about it was a "shame a kids needs to be on a tablet at Disney" with "well, its shame that not everybody understands what parenting a special needs child on the spectrum is like because I bet there would be a lot less judgement."

What is wrong with people!? I shouldn't be surprised, yet I always am about how ignorant people can be. If it's not affecting you, why open your mouth about it? >:(
It's so sad that we live in such a society that feels the need to constantly project judgement and opinions onto others from their own lens. So I feel for you on that one. Me personally, I don't really care what people may or may not think about my kids using a tablet or device while at Disney. While it may not be their choice, everyone has different needs and challenges and they are all tackled in their own ways to achieve success. The best way to deal with it is to just simply ignore it, the opinion of others is exactly that... and you know what they say about opinions! lol

The DAS would be a great option for you guys, however, as you alluded to in one of your posts, as children grow a little older they get a little more aware and self conscious about being 'different' and as such don't necessarily wish to be associate with it i.e. getting a label. However, the DAS is so functional for many different people. There is no way we would be able to go without one, it would just create too many obstacles that would sap 99.99% of our bandwidth solving! lol Once you get into a routine and see the benefits of it his attitude will definitely change towards it. It is simply a tool that makes the day more manageable, some see it as 'cheating' lol but as I said above, people need to walk a mile in someone else shoes before passing judgement.

If people are more concerned with passing judgment and focussing on others instead of their own families fun at Disney World, then it speaks more about them than it does about anyone else. Enjoy your time, follow your heart and embrace the good times. Haters are gonna hate regardless, live your dream ;o)
My son is on the severe side. Our strategies are a little different. We use stroller as wheelchair, and due to heat issues, plan to maximize shade. Ironically, we actually stay ALL day, often from drop to kiss goodnight. We do take sensory breaks...or as a very high functioning adult I know says, "time to just be autistic". We do try to avoid crowds, and I plan based on crowd calendars and watch crowd flows as we move around. We've also scoured out little nooks where we can get away if needed. Our friend also says that having picture communication/picture schedule helps even high functioning folks. He has a PHD, taught public school and can, as he says, mimic nuero typical to the point most would not realize his level of autism. But he says when he is upset or overwhelmed, words are challenging, and he thinks in pictures. Those kinds of extra supports may help.

That's a good tip, one easy way we have found through many years of research with our own is to use the 'Temperature' gauge method, whereby, a simple question about 'what's your temperature' relates to their comfort / stress level. There is no need to explain just a 1 word answer based on how they feel. Obviously the hotter the response the more overwhelmed they are. Not suitable for all I know, but it is a quick and easy tool (based on some social story picture learning outcomes) we find effective!
We are here now. My stepson decided to opt out of the DAS. We've had some challenges, although most of the trip has been fine. Getting him to drink fluids has been challenging, and then he gets dehydrated and cranky and his impulse control, already not the best, becomes rather non-existent. But overall, it's going good. He has loved WDW, especially some of the shows, FoP and Star Tours.

My children are not on the spectrum and if I wanted to give them their phones or a tablet during our entire meal and someone said something, I would tell them to mind their own fr*ggin business!!! I stopped caring what other people thought a very long time ago. My family is my and my husbands business. Period.
To the OP, most kids get over whelmed at Disney, so obviously it's more stressful for children on the spectrum. I wouldn't start trying to teach lessons by holding back things that might calm your stepson because he might of had a rough morning. Maybe his rough morning was due to him being over-stimulated from the whole Disney experience. It's very common.
We wrapped up our trip on Tuesday. Getting home was a bit stressful just because travel is. We all were tired and a bit cranky.

Overall, the trip was amazing. My stepson rode things he didn't think he could (FoP and Slinky), but with encouragement he tried and loved them. He was so proud of himself for riding Slinky.

His meltdowns were minor, overall. We did have to fight to get him to eat and to drink, and to put on sunscreen. Those were challenges, but not horrible. We did use his Kindle at Crystal Palace, and it worked like a charm.

The worst meltdown came from his little brother, who had a full on toddler temper tantrum over leaving the Seas at Epcot. But even he recovered.

We learned a lot, and I think my stepson also learned a lot about what he's capable of. We will go back with him and his little brother, but probably not for a year or two.


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