Have you been concerned about taking your child to Walt Disney World because they are on the Autism Spectrum? Does it worry you that you won’t be able to handle the meltdowns when they occur in the parks or that you won’t be able to handle the crowds or wait times for the rides? Don’t worry because Walt Disney World is fully ready for all those who are on the spectrum and ready to help when in need.
For those who don’t know, my daughter has Autism Spectrum Disorder and was diagnosed with it about 3 years ago. She also was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder which normally accompanies Autism Spectrum Disorder. We have been going to Walt Disney World since 2010 and have been dealing with the meltdowns, driving people nuts in lines and probably the cast members too by her not standing still and twirling so much it makes everyone sick. But since her diagnosis we have learned about a few things that have seemed to have helped with going to Walt Disney World a lot easier and I thought I would share those with you all now!
- Get the Disability Access Service. This alone has saved us and many others from having to sit and listen to the meltdowns, whining of having to wait too long and singing and non stop chatter for who knows how long. We didn’t find out about this until 2014 and it was a blessing in disguise for our family. Under the HIPAA Law, Walt Disney World is NOT allowed to ask for documentation showing that your child has it, but please do not abuse this service! This is for those who really need it. This will allow you to go to the ride, be given a time to come back, come back and ride the ride. It does work in conjunction with your fastpasses so that is good.
- Go During Fall, Winter, Non-Holiday Vacations and Spring Seasons. We have found that going during the non-peak seasons, you will have less of a chance for meltdowns, long wait times and crowded parks. Also if you choose to do a special event such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to do it on a Tuesday or Thursday. If you do it on any other day then it will be very busy and could cause for meltdowns.
- Stay in a Walt Disney World Resort. If you stay in a Walt Disney World Resort, then if your child is say sleepy and needs to go back for a while to take a break from the parks then you have an easy access out. Just catch a bus, monorail or boat ride on over to whatever resort you are at and take that break. If you stay off-site then you would have to take the ferry back to the area and then go back to you car and make that ride and meltdown even longer. Not worth it really.
- Try to Eat During Non-Peak Times. We have found that eating at non-peak times is the best. Try to eat either a little earlier than you normally would or a little later than you would at home. This way it’s less crowded inside the restaurant and you won’t have a meltdown or issue. Also if your child has a Sensory Processing Disorder as well and only will eat off the kids menu like mine still does, then just tell the waiter or waitress and they will help you.
- When Viewing Fireworks, Bring Headphones. When it’s time to watch the fireworks and your child may be sensitive to hearing the loud booms of the fireworks. Then maybe bringing some noise cancelling headphones will help out. My daughter has a pair that you would use for when going shooting and those work great for her. You can grab them at your local Walmart or sporting goods store. Also try and find a good spot that isn’t too crowded as well.
- Where to go when a Meltdown Hits. If your child does happen to get a meltdown and your not able to get them calmed down due to the crowds, you can take them into a baby care center. Just let them know that you are there due to your child having ASD and as soon as they are calm quietly leave. Sometimes just having that quiet time helps in getting them settled and calm a little quicker. Also, try and find a cool place like maybe a ride or a show would help calm them down. Try taking them for a ride on the People Mover in Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom. What a great ride to just sit back and relax and allow them to calm down. Also having something as a security helps out a lot too. Like a stuffed animal, toy, blanket or stroller. For our daughter it was her stroller as her safety whenever she had a meltdown.
- Just have Fun! Just have fun no matter what happens! You can leave the planning up to me so you don’t have to stress out about the planning of the dining, where you will be for the days and the fastpasses. You can allow me to handle all of that but just allow yourself to relax and enjoy your family vacation! Have fun and be a kid yourself while on your trip! Who said you too had to act like an adult all the time? Kids of all ages are there every day at Walt Disney World and we all have a kid inside us at all times! It’s OK to skip down Main Street or Sing along with the characters in the shows! Just have fun!
Allow me to help you plan your stress free, family fun trip to Walt Disney World today!
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