Our celebration of Autism Awareness Month and Disney continues with this Guest Post from Jackie Psarianos:
My son is primarily non-verbal. It is difficult engaging him in any conversation. He does not like to be touched or hugged.
Andrew is fifteen with a developmental age of three. He loves the movie Toy Story and the Disney characters Buzz Lightyear and Woody. It is for that reason we love Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ attraction ‘Toy Story Mania’.
Every time we vacation at any of the Disney Parks we see great social and developmental improvements. Andrew comes into his own and into our world many times during those vacations. That is what keeps us coming back time and time again, coupled with Cast Members anticipating our needs, makes for a positive and memorable experience.
One visit to Toy Story Mania stands out in my mind, Andrew was thirteen at the time and up until then I had never heard any terms of endearment or had any hugs from him.
We were in the attraction vehicle and Andrew’s aim at the targets was incredible, he was pointing and shooting at all the dishes on one screen, breaking them one after the other and becoming increasingly engaged by the minute. His excitement and enthusiasm kept my attention as I had not seen anything like this ever! My mind was reeling because of this joint attention, his hand eye coordination and best of all, his more than appropriate responses to his achievements.
Andrew that day scored 89,000 points, a personal best! I couldn’t wait to get out and tell my husband about all of this.
What a huge stride Andrew took that day, it was massive and I was so excited.
Upon exiting the attraction, Andrew turned to me and said, “Mummy, give me a kiss!”
I was floored! Not only did I give him a kiss, but I got a great big hug out of him for the first time in his thirteen years. For the very first time!
Imagine my delight. It’s a moment I will never ever forget and will hold close to my heart always.
Andrew came back to us if even for a few minutes.
I am so grateful for that special, special moment.
Thank you for sharing, Jackie!
This blog series is brought to you by Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide on Kickstarter.
Please support the publication of this book!