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Guests with Special Needs Discuss WDW and Autism in the Vacation Planning forums; My 6 year old son was recently diagnosed with autism. We are planning a late August 2008 trip to WDW. Can anyone recommend some great activities for a sensory sensitive ...
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    Chickapin Chick's Avatar
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    WDW and Autism

    My 6 year old son was recently diagnosed with autism. We are planning a late August 2008 trip to WDW. Can anyone recommend some great activities for a sensory sensitive child? (Character meals are out because he is terrified of the characters.) He went to Disney when he was 4, so we have a good idea of what will/will not work for him, but I thought it might be interesting to hear what has worked for other people's children!
    "The future is coming, you've got to catch it if you can..."

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    MandaBella's Avatar
    MandaBella is offline "She who must be loved."
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    I don't have an specific tips for you.

    However, Deb Wills (creator of the allearsnet.com website) co-authored a book that maybe beneficial to you:
    Amazon.com: PassPorter's Walt Disney World for Your Special Needs: The Take-Along Travel Guide and Planner! (Passporter Walt Disney World): Books: Deb Wills,Debra Martin Koma
    Amanda
    always plotting, planning, and looking forward to our next adventure...


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    BamaJenn is offline Disnerd
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    While I don't have an Autistic child, or one who is even remotely sensitive to anything... I can assume at least that the sorts of things you'll want to stay away from are anything that is truly "in your face". For example, I would avoid the 3D movies at each park. Not only are they 3D but they have some very "in your face" stuff that happens throughout and would be truly overwhelming for your little guy. The same goes for attractions like Stitch which not only have "in your face" aspects but literally lock you into place during them with no escape or ability to grab onto mommy.

    Things that might be great though are interactive activities. Like Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and the new Spaceship Earth (the ending is now interactive).

    Regardless, I'm sure you'll have a fantastic time with him on this next trip! Just use your mommy instincts.
    Sometimes all you need is a reminder that out there lies a better place... a better world... a Walt Disney World.
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    My eldest son has Aspergers Syndrome and enjoys a variety of different activities at WDW. I have found that alternating days really helps out, so one day we will have a full on day at MK then the next day we will go to Typhoon lagoon/ Blizzard beach and have a relaxing swimming day, followed by an easy dinner at the resort.
    My son has enjoyed our holidays though, you just have to assess your own childs needs whilst you are there. Hope this helps x x






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    Innoventions would be excellent, as well as other Epcot pavilions.
    there's nothing to get hung about

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    Thanks everyone for your suggestions! I do enjoy hearing what has worked for you and your children. Keep the suggestions coming!
    "The future is coming, you've got to catch it if you can..."

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    Summer '83-Off Site

    Dec '95- Shades Of Green

    March '03-All Star Movies

    March '06-All Star Movies

    October '07-POFQ

    March '10-POFQ

    March '13 POFQ

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    Nov'14 All Star Sports-F&WF W&D 1/2 Marathon!


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    My son is Autistic, I would not bring him into Buzz Lightyear. It seems to him that it makes it looks like he's in the game. The CM there at the ride says the get that alot from kids with this disorder. My 12 year old still flips out over it. And he's a video game nut.

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    Anyone have a good character meal alternative? (He's afraid the characters will touch him.) Thought about Coral Reef Restaurant--he likesfish...
    "The future is coming, you've got to catch it if you can..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chickapin Chick View Post
    Anyone have a good character meal alternative? (He's afraid the characters will touch him.) Thought about Coral Reef Restaurant--he likesfish...

    I did a character meal at Epcot - Garden Grill (i think?) and I spoke to the waiter before hand as my son also doesn't like the characters too near to him and they were really good. They waved from a distance and took my youngest away from the table to have photo's done. I have always found that Disney employees are really understanding if you explain to them beforehand.






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    Headphones or earplugs might help with the noise of the crowds, rides, and fireworks. thats what we did with my Daughter who is very sensitive about sound. I kept my mp3 player close whenever i needed to. also travel flashlights for rides like Peter Pan or POTC. That way it wouldnt disturb other guests but would help your son (with the dark). I work with Autistic Chidren as a play therapist and Ive helped a few clients plan their disney trips (its helps to love disney! LOL). I def agree with the 3D movies, if your husband wants to see the Bugs Life one at AK, walk into the theatre and out the other door and wait on the steps. the CM give kids who are waiting or got scared plastic/rubber bugs to play with (at least they did while we were there 2 yrs ago) my daughter freaked out and was only calmed by a rubber lady bug! lol

    i also love the idea of having the characters waving from a far. maybe yu could get someone to sign an autograph book that way hed have a souvenir from the characters.

    The Play area across from Winnie the Pooh ride is GREAT. has climbing things, tunnels and water to get wet. same with the dino bone yard at AK. I DONT recommend the Bugs Life play yard at MGM (or Hollywood studios) because its busy and hard to keep track of kids (my personal opin of course).

    If your son needs structure, maybe make a picture schedule for him of the rides, restaurants, shows, etc.

    hopes this helps.
    Karen S.K. fellow scrapbooker and disney addict since September 12th, 1985

    It all started with a mouse..... and noone in my family can stop it!!!:mickey:

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    Chickapin Chick's Avatar
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    Great! I hope others are finding these suggestions as useful as I have!
    "The future is coming, you've got to catch it if you can..."

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    FigmentMushu's Avatar
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    The trick with Autism is that it's such a broad spectrum, there's no way of matching one autistic's time at the parks with another's. There's a saying, "If you meet one Autistic, you've met ONE Autistic."

    The best thing is to listen to your child and be ready to adapt your touring plan to him. If he doesn't want to do something, Don't.

    One general thing I can suggest are the hidden trails surrounding Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life. There's a lot of animals carved into the wood, and I've heard a lot of Autistics tell me it was fun to explore...like a Highlights Magazine page come to life. And they got to move at their own pace.
    Dreams Never Die!

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    Tinker Bell is offline DisneyWorldTrivia.com Lifetime Pass
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    I don't really have new tips to add but just from personal experience, I agree with Nenny Mouse, avoid the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, I lost track of my 5 yr old for a few minutes and was this close to panicking when I finally saw him on the slide. It is a huge playground with way too many places to hide and usually full of people, not gonna be visiting that one until the boys are a little older.

    I would say to skip Mickey's Phillarmagic as well since it also has 3D effects and wind in your face effects.


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    FigmentMushu's Avatar
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    Austim is actually often termed ASD (autism spectrum disorder). The reason being, the symptoms and severity of Autism vary with each individual .... each person falls somewhere on the spectrum. (Too many people feel that the spectrum is linear ... when in reality, it is multi-dimensional).

    Some Autistic people hate being touched, others crave deep pressure. Some are bothered by noises or lights, others are not. Some have physical limitations, others do not. Some develop speech, others may never develop this skill. Some have reactions to food, others will not.

    Until more is known about the condition, each person must be treated as the individual that they are.

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