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What are tips for guests with autism at Walt Disney World?

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2011-06-04 14:52:06
2011-06-04 14:52:06

We took my nephew, who has Autism, last year and had a great time. A visit to Walt Disney World can be highly beneficial to anyone with Autism, as long as you manage the visit carefully.

First and most important: Get a signed letter from your doctor, on letterhead, stating exactly what handicap your child has and what accommodations need to be made. For my nephew, it was waiting away from crowds and loud noises. Take it to Guest Assistance on your first day. You�ll get a Guest Assistance card that is valid throughout your stay. With the guest assistance card, we still had to wait just as long, but we were provided with a secluded, out of the way area to wait in. This card allows 6 people (cardholder + 5) to wait in a special line.

Earplugs came in really handy, and an afternoon nap is important. Request a quiet room away from noisy areas, if possible. The sandy beaches and whirlpools provide deep pressure stimulation that�s really good for Autistic kids. And, my nephew really enjoyed the wave pools, too.

ANOTHER ANSWERThe above suggestions are great. There are some additional things I think some parents could try. I work with children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and since every child is different and have different abilities I have no problem asking for special accomodations. Some kids simply can't wait for rides, or they may have impulse control problems where parents fear behavioral outbursts. I don't hesitate to ask "guest relations" for assistance. Most times they will escourt us directly to the head of the line and right onto the rides. WHENEVER I get dirty looks from other people (parents), I just think to myself "get over it" and be thankful that YOUR child has the ABILITY to wait in line. Many, many times, my little charges would not be able to enjoy what other kids enjoy unless I'm a tiny bit demanding, and thankful and polite to the people who help me avoid lines, waiting etc... I tell parents to go for it, explain the situation and not feel guilty for getting special treatment. ENJOY DISNEY WORLD!! <<>> Our ExperienceSince our daughter gets overwhelmed easily by light, sound, etc., we made sure to take frequent breaks from the popular rides.

In the Magic Kingdom:

"It's a Small World" - waaaay too much stimulation for her, she hated it

"Pirates of the Carribbean" - she really liked the dark and the slow boat ride

Toontown: "Wild Ride" - too fast, scary, and crowded

"Minnie's House" - she could have stayed in there forever! She loved observing every tiny object in that house and noticed things we would have never seen without her there; plus we could move at our own pace.

"Tea Cups" - obviously not her thing; again, too fast & spinning, disorienting.

"Dumbo" - she loved the idea of flying but was a little scared on the ride. Once it was over though, she complained that it was too short. lol

"Haunted Mansion" - surprisingly she loved this! I suppose because it was dark and the ride was relatively slow. She thought the ghost holograms were fascinating.

"Jungle Cruise" - since it moves rather slow, I figured she would like this and she did to a point; the problem arose because of the driver. Many of the drivers chatter incessantly over the microphone, cracking jokes and being silly, which most people find very amusing but our daughter held her hands over her ears the whole time. She found the constant LOUD talking really irritating - like being poked repeatedly with a sharp stick. :-/

"Thunder Mountain" & the log ride (can't remember the name) - she had been well prepared ahead of time about these rides and knew they would be fast and maybe a little thrilling, but she wanted to go so she could feel like other kids. With the log ride, we could see several log loads of people come down the waterfall while we were waiting in line and that helped immensely. She knew exactly what to expect. The roller coaster was different though because you really couldn't see it. She got through it, but you could tell she needed a break after that.

Tom Sawyer's Paddleboat Cruise: I can't remember the real name of this ride but it is in Frontierland. After riding a few overwhelming rides, she took great refuge in this slow moving riverboat cruise. (It was quite restful for the parents too!)

In Epcot:

We pretty much spent the day in the aquarium! She had to see EVERY tank, every fish, every ounce of sealife and loved that we could walk through at our own pace. We finally convinced her to leave after 4 hours of tank viewing.

In Animal Kingdom:

For God's sakes, if you go to the Tree of Life (which completely entranced her! she loved it!) DO NOT go to the movie theater underneath the tree. They show a 3D movie and she was screaming almost immediately. I thought she'd be ok once she took off the glasses, but she was still freaked out, hiding her face, and shaking all over. Nightmare. If your child gets the slightest bit overwhelmed, AVOID this attraction.

Thankfully, the 'archeological dig site' for kids where they "dig up" dinosaur bones was just her cup of tea. She could have spent the whole day there. ;-)

In MGM:

There are many attractions here where the audience sits in one spot and merely observes a "play" of sorts performed repeatedly throughout the day as the audiences change out. She did really well with that ----- EXCEPT for the "Little Mermaid." There is a point where they try to make it appear as though the theater goes underwater and that did not go over well AT ALL. I think the mist sprayers upset her more than the actual darkness & sudden claustrophobic feeling that even I felt. Oh she HATED that water droplets were hitting her face and she couldn't figure out where it was coming from.

This is probably way more than you really needed to know but I figured I'd let you know our experiences on some of the actual rides so you could judge how your child might react. :-)

Obviously many breaks were needed throughout the day so getting the Park Hopper Pass was a must (since sometimes she just needed a change of scenery, plus the bus ride is usually quiet and soothing). Frequent trips back to the quiet hotel room to just veg and do nothing also helped.

Also, make sure to bring snacks in with you and head to the food stands BEFORE anyone actually gets hungry to account for crowds and a long wait time.

and go on rids with less men and women

Good Luck & Have fun! :-D

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