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Old 04-07-2014, 05:44 PM   #1
rjvose17
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Help needed

Hi Dis friends.....


Just a quick request. I am a Special Educator taking classes for my masters degree and am currently doing a book review over children with Autism and how to take them out and have fun with them in a over stimulating environment like WDW. I don't need names or anything in particular I just thought it would be nice to include in my review some hints from some actual parents who do go out and not let life slow you or your family down. I have the upmost respect for families who live their lives to the fullest and enjoy their families despite having a disability. Of course by posting I hope that means it's ok to write about you in my paper. It's strictly for the professor. It's not being published or anything. I am a huge Disney fan, DVC member and mother of 2 girls so the boards seem like a second family to me, so naturally I came here to see if anyone would have some interesting insight into how they run their vacations! I thank you all in advance, it's really great to see proactive parents
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Old 04-07-2014, 05:52 PM   #2
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I don't have any autistic children & I can't help with info. I'm a retired teacher stopping by to tell you that I think your project is awesome!

Good luck to you!
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Old 04-07-2014, 07:20 PM   #3
rjvose17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I Love Pluto View Post
I don't have any autistic children & I can't help with info. I'm a retired teacher stopping by to tell you that I think your project is awesome!

Good luck to you!
Thank you so much for your support! I hope I get some interesting responses I'm really anxious to see what parents have to say.
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Old 04-07-2014, 07:39 PM   #4
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This is a link to the new "WDW Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities." Obviously, it's not first-hand tips from guests but you may find it useful as well.
https://wdpromedia.disney.go.com/med..._guide_rev.pdf

And this is a more condensed page of info on the WDW website: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/gu...ties-services/

Good luck with your research and completing your degree!
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:55 PM   #5
Aladora
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Originally Posted by rjvose17 View Post
I don't need names or anything in particular I just thought it would be nice to include in my review some hints from some actual parents who do go out and not let life slow you or your family down.
These are things that we not only do in Disneyland but in every day life.

-Know your child. Know his/her triggers and know his/her signs that they are getting towards what I call "the point of no return." If you child says he or she is done, then he is she is done.

-Be prepared to leave. That is one rule that DH and I live by. No matter where we take our child, if we are in a position where our child's behaviour is negatively impacting other people's enjoyment then we leave. And yes, we do walk out. We have taken meals to go, left midway through movies and we have absolutely left Disneyland to go back to the hotel to allow our child to chill out and decompress. It does no one any good to push your child past their breaking point.

-Know what calms your child. For instance, DS loves the Main Street Cinema and when he starts to get overwhelmed then we take him there to watch a cartoon or two. After that calming down time, he is good to go.

-Know how to mitigate your child's triggers. Another example, DS is scared of scary noises so we let him listen to music on my phone while we are walking through lines that scare him like Indiana Jones. (Headphones are required, no one needs to be forced to listen to his Frozen soundtrack endlessly, except apparently me!)

-Bring things that comfort your child. My son loves playing his DS, so we allow him to bring it to play while we wait, either for food or in lines.

-Prepare your child. I started talking to our son 3 months before our trip to get him ready for the change from the way we used to tour with the GAC to the way we were going to tour with the DAS. It took a while, many tears and any number of conversations but I persisted and it paid off.

-Find a way to make the DAS work for your child. The system takes some planning but many people have used it successfully.

-Be positive. We found that using a different terminology works wonders. Instead of telling him that we had to wait for a return time, we started calling his DAS card his "fastpass" and we used it in conjunction with the fastpass system. So, if he wanted to ride Space Mountain for instance, we would say to him "Let's go find out when our fastpass time is for Space Mountain!" Instead of phrasing it in a negative way such as "Let's see how long we have to wait for Space Mountain", we always talked about it in a positive way. I think next time we are going to get him a kids digital watch so he can be in charge of checking when our "special fastpass" time was here.

-We don't care what others think. At one point this past trip, we were sitting on the ground against a railing, DH and I chatting and DS playing his Nintendo DS. We got some looks but it was what our family needed and it was not bothering others so we ignored the looks. It was a much needed down time and it allowed us to keep enjoying the park after our break.

-Speaking of breaks, take them. DS is 8 1/2 and we still take an afternoon break and go back to the hotel to rest. He never actually naps but the break does him a world of good.

That's all I can think of for now, if you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask!
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Last edited by Aladora; 04-07-2014 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:36 PM   #6
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I agree with Aladora that it comes down to knowing your child. For us, it's been a learning process and I know a whole lot more about how to have a successful WDW trip now than I did back in 2007 when I took DD by myself for our first multi-day trip. I'd taken her twice before for one day trips to the MK, but she was 1 and 2.5 on those trips and we weren't having as many problems then, plus I had other adults on those trips to help out.

Some of our strategies, in no particular order:

- Plan, but be flexible so when the plan isn't working you can change things to make your day go better.
- Involve the child in the planning so they know what to expect.
- If the child hasn't been to WDW before, have them watch the planning video and/or youtube videos of rides and shows so they are familiar with what they will be experiencing. Actually, this works even if they have been to WDW before. DD has now visited most of the attractions, but over the years as she's grown taller and more adventurous, if we are planning to go to an attraction she hadn't been to before, we look for videos of it.
- Plan for breaks. What has worked best for us is getting to the parks at rope drop, touring until shortly after lunch, then going back to the resort to swim. Being in water (pool, bath, or even shower) works wonders at calming DD.
- Stick to a normal sleep schedule as much as possible.
- Along with knowing your child's triggers, have strategies for dealing with those triggers. E.g. DD has trouble with noise so we use noise reducing ear muffs. She wants to buy everything she sees so I have her earn her own WDW spending money and talk through purchases with her so she's aware of how much she has to spend and how much will be left after the purchase.
- Keep water and snacks handy. Thirst and hunger can be huge triggers.
- If a meltdown happens, keep calm. Getting upset will only escalate the situation.

I'm sure I'm missing things, but this is a good start on the strategies.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maggie'sMom View Post
She wants to buy everything she sees so I have her earn her own WDW spending money and talk through purchases with her so she's aware of how much she has to spend and how much will be left after the purchase.
One of the BEST pieces of advice I ever got was this:

Whenever DS wants to buy something in DL, we take a photo of the item. Repeat with all items he wants. On our last morning we go through all the photos and he picks the item or items he really wants and he can get them on our last day in the park.

We have done this for the last three trips and it works like a dream! No more impulse buys and no more whining for every single thing he sees!
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:14 AM   #8
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These at really great!

I was planning in my free time (Ha!) to make a post for the disABILITIES FAQs thread about coping strategies for people with autism, cognitive disabilities or other conditions that may cause meltdowns or overstimulation.
Once I figure out how to get some free time, these will be a good start.

My DD does not have autism, but has some of the same traits.
One of my biggest hints would be to be aware of when you have come close to the point of hitting your limit and leave at that point. Even if you have not used all your Fastpasses or DAS Return Times.
Trying to get that one extra thing in may be what puts you over the limit.

If your child is non-verbal and you use a communication device, make sure there are ways to say things like 'I don't like....I don't want....Stop...all finished...I feel (with appropriate variety of feelings)'
Too often, people program only positive things, whole sentences and wants.
Here is DD's Magic Kingdom page from her communication device (iPad with Proloquo2Go app)

She was angry that the CMs required her backpack to off of her wheelchair for riding in the wheelchair boat at Small World. She was not capable of expressing her displeasure at the time - she just had a meltdown which lasted for half of the rider. After we we're find, she could talk about it.
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Old 04-08-2014, 05:01 AM   #9
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First it to as fully as possible understand Autism genetics and how that impacts your child's ability to interface with the neurotypical world.

Focusing in the 3 primary characteristics of the genetics (sensory, executive function and social perceptual differentials) is often key.

Of course playing detective to as best as possible understand how the complexity of issues from this interface generate anxiety and how to mitigate this impact and read your child is an important skill to develop.

As for WDW specifically, for many of our children, it is a magical place when managed effectively since it is "outside" many of the standard neurotypical expectations and provides most thing is a more non linear format (visual etc). As important is that there is only one reason to be at WDW, that is to have fun, assuming the rest of the family can let go of specific expectations.

We also always used it as a laboratory to expand our child's skill set in interfacing with the world, again since there is nothing else we need to focus on. Of course staying within the confines of encouraging and offering opportunities but not "pushing".

Having a child with autism genetics does change your life, and anyone who claims otherwise is either kidding themselves or doing a disservice to their child. The trick is to offer every opportunity, without creating damaging anxiety in the process.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:42 PM   #10
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Some thing I do:
Take water, snacks , meds, band aids with us.
Have an id with my number on child
Let child hold sensory item toy
Comfortable clothes
Schedule of what we will do
Put child's favorite activity after a few no preferred
Be ready to abandon any activity
One adult only is responsible for child; switching is how they get lost
Glow sticks at night to easily see child
Bright colored clothing
Use rides like the train for downtime
Allow child as much time as they want looking at a fountain etc
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aladora View Post
These are things that we not only do in Disneyland but in every day life. -Know your child. Know his/her triggers and know his/her signs that they are getting towards what I call "the point of no return." If you child says he or she is done, then he is she is done. -Be prepared to leave. That is one rule that DH and I live by. No matter where we take our child, if we are in a position where our child's behaviour is negatively impacting other people's enjoyment then we leave. And yes, we do walk out. We have taken meals to go, left midway through movies and we have absolutely left Disneyland to go back to the hotel to allow our child to chill out and decompress. It does no one any good to push your child past their breaking point. -Know what calms your child. For instance, DS loves the Main Street Cinema and when he starts to get overwhelmed then we take him there to watch a cartoon or two. After that calming down time, he is good to go. -Know how to mitigate your child's triggers. Another example, DS is scared of scary noises so we let him listen to music on my phone while we are walking through lines that scare him like Indiana Jones. (Headphones are required, no one needs to be forced to listen to his Frozen soundtrack endlessly, except apparently me!) -Bring things that comfort your child. My son loves playing his DS, so we allow him to bring it to play while we wait, either for food or in lines. -Prepare your child. I started talking to our son 3 months before our trip to get him ready for the change from the way we used to tour with the GAC to the way we were going to tour with the DAS. It took a while, many tears and any number of conversations but I persisted and it paid off. -Find a way to make the DAS work for your child. The system takes some planning but many people have used it successfully. -Be positive. We found that using a different terminology works wonders. Instead of telling him that we had to wait for a return time, we started calling his DAS card his "fastpass" and we used it in conjunction with the fastpass system. So, if he wanted to ride Space Mountain for instance, we would say to him "Let's go find out when our fastpass time is for Space Mountain!" Instead of phrasing it in a negative way such as "Let's see how long we have to wait for Space Mountain", we always talked about it in a positive way. I think next time we are going to get him a kids digital watch so he can be in charge of checking when our "special fastpass" time was here. -We don't care what others think. At one point this past trip, we were sitting on the ground against a railing, DH and I chatting and DS playing his Nintendo DS. We got some looks but it was what our family needed and it was not bothering others so we ignored the looks. It was a much needed down time and it allowed us to keep enjoying the park after our break. -Speaking of breaks, take them. DS is 8 1/2 and we still take an afternoon break and go back to the hotel to rest. He never actually naps but the break does him a world of good. That's all I can think of for now, if you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask!
Thanks! Aladora for all of your tidbits of information. My son has ADD and something's you have mentioned would work for us as well. There are also something's that we have done before, that now seeing that other people do them, I not worried about what other people think. We need to do what works for our children. Thanks again!!

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Old 04-08-2014, 02:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aladora View Post
One of the BEST pieces of advice I ever got was this:

Whenever DS wants to buy something in DL, we take a photo of the item. Repeat with all items he wants. On our last morning we go through all the photos and he picks the item or items he really wants and he can get them on our last day in the park.

We have done this for the last three trips and it works like a dream! No more impulse buys and no more whining for every single thing he sees!
This is a great idea. I'm not a 100% sure if it will work for DD, but I'm definitely going to give it a try in May.

Although I will say that she has improved immensely on this issue for me in the past few years. I can say "no" to repeated requests for purchases without a meltdown ensuing.

One thing I forgot to mention last night is that I use the pressed penny machines as a distraction in a shop when she is really wanting to buy something and having a hard time letting it go. We collect pressed pennies so if a ride dumps out in a gift shop (e.g. Splash) and DD fixates on something she wants to buy and isn't accepting "no", I'll say "no, but let's go make a pressed penny." 51 cents later we have a souvenir for our collection and DD happily walks out of the store without what she was insisting she "had to have." I don't mind the 51 cents because we are on a quest to collect all the pressed pennies anyway.
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Old 04-08-2014, 03:07 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Maggie'sMom View Post
This is a great idea. I'm not a 100% sure if it will work for DD, but I'm definitely going to give it a try in May.

Although I will say that she has improved immensely on this issue for me in the past few years. I can say "no" to repeated requests for purchases without a meltdown ensuing.

One thing I forgot to mention last night is that I use the pressed penny machines as a distraction in a shop when she is really wanting to buy something and having a hard time letting it go. We collect pressed pennies so if a ride dumps out in a gift shop (e.g. Splash) and DD fixates on something she wants to buy and isn't accepting "no", I'll say "no, but let's go make a pressed penny." 51 cents later we have a souvenir for our collection and DD happily walks out of the store without what she was insisting she "had to have." I don't mind the 51 cents because we are on a quest to collect all the pressed pennies anyway.
Does she have her own camera? It might help her if *she* is in charge of taking the pictures.

Oh, those pressed penny machines! DS loves them! I am sure we have duplicates since we never keep track of what ones we get trip to trip!
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Old 04-08-2014, 03:29 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Aladora View Post
Does she have her own camera? It might help her if *she* is in charge of taking the pictures.

Oh, those pressed penny machines! DS loves them! I am sure we have duplicates since we never keep track of what ones we get trip to trip!
She needs a new camera. She dropped the one she had and it no longer works. I think rather than carrying two cameras around, I can just give her mine to take the picture. Or let her have my cell to snap a picture.

We have duplicates on the pressed pennies too. I really should get a book to put them all in.
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Old 04-08-2014, 04:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aladora View Post
Oh, those pressed penny machines! DS loves them! I am sure we have duplicates since we never keep track of what ones we get trip to trip!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maggie'sMom View Post
We have duplicates on the pressed pennies too. I really should get a book to put them all in.
Looks like you guys need this!

Pressed Penny Checklist
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