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Mikomi
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24 Jul 2008, 8:28 pm

My daughter as Autism (possibly AS) and my son has PDD and central auditory processing disorder (he has difficulty with communicating both ways). We know they would love Disney and my daughter is begging to go (she thinks she IS a Dinsey princess lol) but we worry about some of the sensory overload. My son seems to handle it quite well, he simply tunes out or flaps to dissipate stress. My daughter becomes disoriented at times though. While both love amusement parks, both have difficulty waiting (not typical kid impatience) and filtering.

So I am wondering, are there quiet places to duck into if needed for a chill moment? Do they have any assistance for kids with autism? Has anyone here been there with their child and have advice for us to make it a happy, comfortable experience for the kids?

Thanks in advance :)


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CRACK
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24 Jul 2008, 9:17 pm

Do you mean Disney World?

I went there with my parents when I was 9. Hated it. I hated dealing with the heat, I hated waiting in crowds, I hated the noise, I hated being dragged along to places I wasn't particularly excited about, I hated going on rides; in most cases, my parents had to go on tours/rides separately because I outright refused to go on them. One of them would wait with me while the other had their fun. And then they would switch. I ended up getting a severe grounding shortly before the trip was over because I had a meltdown in a restaurant where some performance event was taking place. King Henry's Feast, I think it was called.

But I'm not an amusement park kind of guy. I see nothing amusing about them, so...



2ukenkerl
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24 Jul 2008, 9:21 pm

Mikomi wrote:
My daughter as Autism (possibly AS) and my son has PDD and central auditory processing disorder (he has difficulty with communicating both ways). We know they would love Disney and my daughter is begging to go (she thinks she IS a Dinsey princess lol) but we worry about some of the sensory overload. My son seems to handle it quite well, he simply tunes out or flaps to dissipate stress. My daughter becomes disoriented at times though. While both love amusement parks, both have difficulty waiting (not typical kid impatience) and filtering.

So I am wondering, are there quiet places to duck into if needed for a chill moment? Do they have any assistance for kids with autism? Has anyone here been there with their child and have advice for us to make it a happy, comfortable experience for the kids?

Thanks in advance :)


At least some parks DO have places that are quieter, where you can relax. CALL IN ADVANCE, and try to get your daughter recognized as disabled by DISNEY! Tell them about your plight! A lot of people might not realize it, but amusement parks often have an EXPRESS LANE! Instead of waiting HOURS in the heat with HUNDREDS of people, you can wait MINUTES on the other side, and the WHOLE FAMILY, and friends, benefit because of your daughter's disability!

PLEASE REALIZE though that some people can be VERY noisy, and intrusive. HOPEFULLY You have 4-6 people in your group, and can surround her so she will only be around FRIENDS! ALSO, be aware of the ride. Some are MEANT to splash, be noisy, or disorienting.



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24 Jul 2008, 10:56 pm

First, pick a slow day, and an off time of year. See if you can get accommodations arranged with the park before hand. Hand your children control of the map (the tough part may be having 2 that will need control). The map is my son's way of dealing with noise and crowds. Focus on map; tune out world.

Some areas that my AS son enjoyed, that were quieter, included Tom Sawyers Island, and pretty much all of California Adventure. We scheduled lunch at Ariel's Groto in California Adventure and the princesses all came to our table, instead of us having to fight in line or wait around and hope to get lucky.


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24 Jul 2008, 11:28 pm

Honestly, I dislike amusement parks.

Last time I went to one was...wow...almost 8-10 years back I think.

The noise, heat, constantly being bumped...hated it.

Australia is a bit different especially the zoo's and dreamworld. I like them. Watching the tigers and the reptile house were my favorite things to do.

Calling in advance is a very good idea. Otherwise you may spend a lot of time in isolated, dark areas so your child can re-centre themselves.

I can't even deal with family parties so I usually end up sitting in another room entirely just chatting to one or two of my cousins and tossing balls between us.

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25 Jul 2008, 1:28 am

If they have never been in any amusement parks it might work best to go to a different one, a smaller one. You can't get much more crowded then Disney World.


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Mikomi
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25 Jul 2008, 1:34 am

Good advice.

My daughter does enjoy amusement parks and rides, though she does have issue with large crowds and things that are overly loud. We're going during the off season to minimize crowds, and also during a time when it will be cooler there so the heat and humidity don't become a sensory nightmare. I'm trying to think of everything in advance to make this trip an enjoyable experience for her - she's so excited about seeing the princess castle and all of her favorite characters. I'll deifinitely try calling them to see what disability services are offered for guests.

Crack - what a horrid experience. I can't imagine I would like amusement parks much after an experience like that. For me, my trip to Disney as a child ended with me in the emergency having heat stroke with a fever of 105. Perhaps my brain being melted explains some things :lol:


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25 Jul 2008, 9:01 am

Disney definitely has provisions for people with disabilities, including those on the autism spectrum. I don't remember, off hand, what they are, but they include not having to wait on lines the way everyone else does. This has been discussed on some other listservs I'm on, and I don't remember if it's that you get a pass that lets you go in the exit, so you don't have to wait, or whether you get assigned a specific time when you can come back and not wait, but either way, it is much more ASD-friendly. Get in touch with Disney for the details, but the folks who've been and used the accommodations were very happy.



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25 Jul 2008, 9:14 am

The Thursday after Labor Day is the best day to go to any theme park!



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25 Jul 2008, 11:30 am

We've went to Disney world recently when my son was 2. I have to say it was a pretty miserable experience for all of us, and I feel like I wasted hundreds for nothing. We even went at the end of January, supposedly when it's supposed to be the least busy, but there were still so many crowds and lines he just went nuts. I think that theme parks just don't come in any sort of autism-friendly format.



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25 Jul 2008, 9:40 pm

Hi! My son hasn't been diagnosed w/ AS yet, but he fits it to a tee...he's 10 and we've been dealing w/ melt downs and issues since he was 4. Anyhow....we took him, and his little brother, to Disney in January 2007. We had a wonderful time...however did have a few times when my oldest son had some problems. This, however, was no different than going anywhere in town. I'd recommend going off season (2nd or last week in January is great!), Stay in a hotel that is on site (they have $80 per night hotels on the grounds- Pop Century resort as an example) which also includes bus rides to and from the parks at all hours. No hassling w/ parking and traffic. Basically, we made sure to seperate the days out in advance. Let my boys look at the map and decide which park to visit each day and circle the things they absolutely wanted to do or ride in that park. We split up the day by taking a break after lunch....bus back to the hotel for a swim and little 'quiet time' or nap...then back to the park to finish our fun. It worked VERY well and we had minimal break downs. We let them be included in the planning...incase it rained or got wet on rides we all bought a pair of Crocs, they're meant for water, so no wet shoes or socks...which would've caused a breakdown due to foot comfort...belive me. I let them pack a backpack to carry with a disposable camera and an anorak they picked out...made sure they were aware if it rained we'd still have fun...with the crocs and anoraks it was OK to be a bit wet. It actually did rain twice and my son was just fine and ended up loving it because we prepared him for the possibility. etc....

I would hate to see you not take them by assuming it will be too much for them to handle...give them the chance to make up their own minds about the trip. If they hate it...well, at least they know now....you may also find it's the best memory they'll have.

Good luck to you!



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25 Jul 2008, 11:01 pm

If I am not mistaken, many parks have an express pass option (for an additional fee, of course) as another alternative. It's overwhelming, but if you get a multi-day pass (depending on situation) then you can break it into smaller pieces.


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27 Jul 2008, 12:01 pm

Mikomi wrote:
Good advice.

My daughter does enjoy amusement parks and rides, though she does have issue with large crowds and things that are overly loud. We're going during the off season to minimize crowds, and also during a time when it will be cooler there so the heat and humidity don't become a sensory nightmare. I'm trying to think of everything in advance to make this trip an enjoyable experience for her - she's so excited about seeing the princess castle and all of her favorite characters. I'll deifinitely try calling them to see what disability services are offered for guests.


It is a good idea to go in off-season. That is the only time I would go (even before my son was born).

If your children are age 6 and under, they will fit in the Disney strollers. I took my son when he was 5 and the stroller was wonderful. He would recline in there and zone out as needed.

I took him again this year at age 9. No stroller :( . I took ear defenders for him..the kind they use at the shooting range. He LOVED them. The parks are so loud. We stayed at a Disney resort and really had to break up the day. 2 hours at the park, an hour or so of rest, hit the park again.

The hardest thing I had to deal with was comparing us to other families. Sometimes, I'd look at typical kids and how they enjoyed the parks. It's different with typicals...they go on most of rides, don't mind the noises, and they will stay at the park from open to close. When I took a deep breath and resigned myself to a much slower pace, I really enjoyed seeing how my son had fun. He liked things that 99.99999% of other kids would not. If he didn't want to close the park (which he didn't)....who cares??? we were still having a blast.



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27 Jul 2008, 9:17 pm

first: do not go on Super bowl Sunday as many families believe that no one would go that day so there are actually large crowds.

I would suggest some noise canceling headphones if your children can stand them. Hat for the lights (of course, along with sunglasses), and taking them to an out of the way place for some time may also help with the headphones so that they don't have things that are suppose to be making noise not making noise (which still buggers me out when I wear them).

Hope this helps.



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27 Jul 2008, 11:14 pm

I went to Disneyland when I was 6 or so and I really liked it. I'd like to go again someday seeing as I was too afraid of roller coasters to ride them back then. But I don't have any big sensory issues so it could be different for AS kids who do.


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31 Jul 2008, 8:46 pm

avoid the parade. the speakers are very loud. we have had annual passes since my son was three, he is an aspie. the best months are oct, nov before Thanksgiving week, jan, feb, and march. we avoid the parade, star wars, and buzz light year ride, and fireworks. he loves the carousel, mark twain boat ride, and funny but true "pirates of the carribean" (a case of obsession overcoming sensory over load). He absolutely hated the submarine ride. He loves roller coasters.