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Autism Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Special Mouse - Unofficial Disney Parks and Travel for Your Special Needs Special Mouse – Unofficial Disney Parks and Travel for Your Special Needs
Special Mouse – Unofficial Disney Parks and Travel for Your Special Needs

Special Mouse Podcast

Posts Tagged 'Autism'

A Disney DAS Social Story for Young Children with Autism

Photo courtesy of Autism at the Parks

Photo courtesy of Autism at the Parks


When Disney’s Guest Assistance Card was replaced with the Disability Access Service Card in October, 2013, it was done rather abruptly. This didn’t give families traveling with young children on the Autism Spectrum much time to prepare. I quickly wrote out this social story and posted it on my personal blog.

I happened to be at the Magic Kingdom with friends the day that the DAS went into effect. My friend John Saccheri , aka, Big Fat Panda, agreed to help me create a video version of the social story.  He makes amazing point-of-view attraction videos that my son, Billy, cannot get enough of! I didn’t have Billy with me, so fellow Disney blogger Aunesty Janssen graciously allowed us to “borrow” the experience she had with her son and use it for the social story. Thank you, both. I hope that you find this video to be useful as you plan for your Disney vacation!

A DAS Social Story Video


There is something new at Disney that will help me to have fun. It is called the DAS card.

To get the DAS card we visit Guest Relations. The Cast Members at Guest Relations are there to help us.

My Mom or Dad or _________ will ask a Cast Member for the DAS card. The Cast Member will ask my Mom or Dad some questions about me.

I will try to stay quiet while they are talking. If I am quiet my Mom or Dad will be so proud of me.

The Disney Cast Member will take my picture. I will try to stay still when my picture is taken.

Now I have a special card with my picture on it.

Sometimes, there is a long line of people waiting for a ride that I want to do.

I must wait for my turn. Waiting can be hard.

My Mom or Dad will give the Cast Member my DAS card. He or she will write something on the back of the card. It is the time that we can come back to ride.

When that time is up we will come back to ride.

I will try to be patient while I wait for my turn to ride. This is a good idea.

There are many things that I can do while waiting for my turn.

I can have a snack. I can play a game. I can use the restroom. I can listen to music.

I can _____________________________________.

Mom or Dad will be happy if I wait quietly for my turn to ride.

When it is time for my turn, we will come back to the ride and get in the shorter line. It is good to be in the shorter line.


Soon I will ride and I will feel happy.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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Star Wars Weekends Planning with Autism – 059

Kathy discusses Star Wars Weekends planning with friend and fellow Autism Spectrum mom, Anne Marie Norton.

Jedi MickeyPhoto:

Star Wars Weekends – Join the Rebellion

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, May 15 – June 14, 2015

STAR WARS WEEKENDS are a series of special events held on select Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World resort in Florida. Activities normally include celebrity appearances, trivia contests, event-exclusive merchandise, a daily parade featuring celebrity guests from the Star Wars franchise, a special fireworks presentation (Symphony in the Stars), plus photo opportunities and character dining with a Star Wars theme. Whew!

These weekends are extremely popular and often sell out. Many Star Wars fans in attendance come to the park dressed as Star Wars characters and Hollywood Studios is very crowded during these events. Since autism and crowds do not mix well, we cover some special planning considerations for experiencing the event with someone on the autism spectrum.

TIP OF THE WEEK: This week’s tip is for guests who pan to use Disney’s Disability Access Service card (DAS). As soon as you obtain your DAS card, take a picture of it. Make sure you include the QR code in your photo! This way, if you happen to lose the card, all you have to do is pay a visit to Guest Relations and show them the photo. The Cast Member can then scan the QR code, confirm your identity by looking at your picture in the photo, and quickly issue a replacement card. Taking a moment to get that picture can potentially save you quite a bit of hassle down the line if you lose that piece of paper!

MOUSEKEEPING: We will be having a Listener Meet-Up at Walt Disney World in May! Details to follow.

Thanks for listening,


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Should Your Special-Needs Family Take Advantage of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours?


If you visit the official website, you will see that, naturally, Disney Parks guests are presented with a number of perks designed to persuade them to spend their vacation dollars on-site by booking their stay at a Disney resort. One of these resort-guests-only perks is Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World resort hotels and Magic Morning Early Entry at the Disneyland resort hotels.


These are touted as a major perk of staying on-site: “extended theme park hours that give you additional time in select Disney Parks with valid theme park admission.”  So, essentially, you’re getting more “bang” for your theme-park-admission buck.


Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Wrong!


For guests with special needs, the correct answer is: It depends!


Let me tell you how my family started out as EMH users and eventually converted to EMH avoiders.


I used to be a big believer in EMH, especially years ago when, like Disneyland, the perk was limited to early admission to a different park each day. Our children were small, so we knew we were planning to hit each park early and then head back to our resort after lunch so the kids could nap. Then, in the evening, we would hop to a non-EMH park for dinner and the nighttime fireworks or entertainment.


This plan worked well for us because of the simple fact that most guests – especially as their vacation progresses – find it difficult to get up early and make it to the park at rope-drop. So if, say, the EMH Park for the day was the Magic Kingdom, we would arrive at 8am and pretty much have enjoyed all of Fantasyland at a leisurely pace by nine. Interestingly enough, guests would still be arriving just before what would have been the “regular” opening time and after! By lunchtime, there was a noticeable increase in the crowd level but – no matter! After lunch we were out of there!


That worked well for several years until…


The Extra Magic Hours schedule changed! No longer did the parks taking turns opening one hour early. Now there was this mish-mosh of one park opening an hour early one day, and the following day another park would stay open three hours later. Well, naturally the evening EMHs worked well for folks who like to sleep in, but we found that the benefit of the additional hours was cancelled out by the huge increase in the crowd level. (Evening Extra Magic Hours are understandably popular!)


Also, staying out late the night before, added to the fact that our children had aged-out of afternoon naps, often made it difficult to get everyone up and out the door for rope-drop the following morning. Soon we discovered that we had better luck avoiding the early EMH parks! To me, it just wasn’t worth getting stressed out first thing in the morning because it can often set the mood for the entire day.


Sleeping Dalmation


So, here is where the controversy comes in: are Extra Magic Hours parks always the place to head when you want to get the most for your Disney dollar?  The answer is really a both a yes and a no. 


If you’re traveling with young kids with special needs I’d say, yes. Definitely hit the early morning Extra Magic Hours Park, but plan to high-tail it out of there after lunch and take that nap! If you have teens then perhaps you can entice them to getting up each morning by promising a “sleep-in” morning somewhere in the middle of the trip, followed by a visit to the park with evening EMHs.


For our family, it is important to avoid crowds because of my son’s sensory issues related to his autism. We find that “reverse psychology” works best. Most resort guests will instinctively head for the Extra Magic Hours Park, so that is the one we avoid.


As with most things in Life, there isn’t one clear-cut solution to fit everyone’s needs. So I say, play with it. Do some experimentation of your own and find out what works best for you and your travel party!



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Safety IDs for Nonverbal Kids to Wear on Disney Vacations

Lost parents sign

Over the years, with the help of ABA and speech therapy, our sixteen year-old with Autism has gradually gained more speech. He’s not quite conversational, mind you, but he can understand what is being said to him and is able to communicate his needs. And he can answer basic questions like “What is your name?” and “What is your phone number?”

This was not the case when we first traveled to Walt Disney World in 2003. At the age of five, he was practically non-verbal. So you can imagine how worried I was about the possibility of him getting separated from us in a busy theme park. Even if he did manage to find a Cast Member (we repeatedly showed the kids pictures of what their name tags looked like), he wouldn’t be able to answer any of their questions!

The most obvious intervention — one used by many parents of non- or low-verbal children — is to sew labels into the children’s clothing. Well, that idea wouldn’t work for Billy because of his tactile hypersensitivity – he couldn’t tolerate the feel of the labels in his clothes. They seemed almost painful for him. Ditto for any type of ID bracelet or “dog” tag.

My husband came up with the perfect solution. He ordered Billy a Road ID that could be worn on one of his sneakers. It was just like the one he himself wore when running. All of Billy’s emergency contact information could be placed on the Shoe ID and it would not touch his skin at all!

Billy tolerated the Shoe ID so well that when we returned home we just left it on his sneaker. It attaches with Velcro, so it can be easily transferred to another pair of shoes if needed.



If your child will tolerate it, the Road ID can also be worn on the ankle, the wrist, or as a “dog tag.”


My friend Heidi (also an Autism mom) developed her own version of sensory-friendly identification which she currently sells on Etsy. Safety ID Stickers for Kids hide your child’s personal information while still being highly visible if they need help. Just stick one on your child’s shirt and go! You pick from the many designs available for the outer sticker and Heidi custom prints the inner sticker with the contact information that you provide her. The stickers are weather proof and the ink will not run even when submerged in water. The stickers stay on until you take them off and leave no adhesive residue on the clothing like tape can.



They aren’t my cup of tea (because the information is so readily visible to strangers), but many parents choose Tattoos With a Purpose. Simply attach the temporary tattoo to your child in a visible area and using the provided marker write down a contact number on the tattoo in case your child goes missing.



Temporary tattoos are non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and can be removed with rubbing alcohol or baby oil.

Another ID system developed by an Autism mom uses smart phone technology. If I Need Help is a non-profit organization that provides a place where the multitude of information about a person with special needs can be kept in one place. This information can be accessed by whoever needs it at the time. Profiles can be accessed manually from any web browser or via scanned QR Codes. QR Codes can be read quickly by any smartphone. QR reader Apps can be downloaded for free from App stores.


These QR Code patches can be sewn onto favorite items of clothing or…


You can purchase a variety of clothing with the QR Code patches already attached.


Utilizing a Safety ID system for your non- or low-verbal child is an effective way to reduce the stress associated with touring a crowded environment in which the child may wander and become separated from you. Choose a system that works best for you and use it to have a more enjoyable vacation!

How about you? Does your family use a safety ID system that you like?

The first person to write a comment on this blog will receive one QR Code Patch compliments of Erin from If I Need Help!

Thanks for reading,


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What a Dog! Disney with a Service Dog 046


Lady and Tramp


Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line travel with your Service Dog.

Kathy is joined by Gordon LaGrow, an SNG-certified special needs travel advocate and owner of Vacation with the Magic. Gordon has abundant first-hand travel experience both at Walt Disney World and with the Disney Cruise Line accompanied by his medical service dogs, Tasha and later, Tasha 2.0.


Tasha 2.0

Some of the topics we discuss are:

1. What is the difference between a service dog and a companion dog?  What jobs do these dogs perform and in what ways do they help people with disabilities or health conditions?

2. What are some transportation considerations for guests traveling with a service dog — Veterinarian, TSA regulations, Documents, etc. Do trained service dogs need to be certified?

4. What are Disney’s specific policies regarding service dogs in the hotels, parks and on the cruise line?

5. Restricted locations/Break areas in the theme parks.

6. General tips: what to bring for a day in the park, how do you handle people wanting to pet your dog, the importance of ensuring that your dog gets adequate rest/hydration, etc.

You can connect with Gordon on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+ and PINTEREST.


TIP OF THE WEEK:  This tip comes from Facebook Community Member, Ashley Riggs: “Many resorts will allow you to ship essentials prior to your arrival, such as diapering items, wipes, dry goods. This will save you considerable room in your luggage! I plan to order using my amazon prime account, which includes free shipping right before our trip!”

Great tip, Ashley! Added tip: be sure the package is sent to the same name your reservation was made under.


Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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5 Kids + 2 DAS Cards = 1 Magical Walt Disney World Vacation! 045

Walt Disney World with multiple kids and multiple special needs: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Jeanette & Family

Jeanette & Family

Kathy chats with Jeanette, a fellow Jersey Girl (and R.N.) who is probably still unpacking from her family’s late summer vacation at Walt Disney World! She and her husband are the proud parents of: Brandon (13), Madison (9) who has Social Anxiety and OCD, Kate (8), Bree (7) and Brian (5) who has Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In this episode, Jeanette gives a trip report from the family’s WDW vacation in August, 2014.

(Intro music to the segment is “Go With the Flow” from Finding Nemo: The Musical, which can be seen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.)

The family had a short Universal-based vacation this past December, 2013, and had the opportunity to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) at the Magic Kingdom. At that time, Jeanette feels that the crowds and the inability to utilize FP+ had a negative effect on their experience at the Magic Kingdom, resulting in multiple meltdowns for her two special-needs children. This made her quite apprehensive about their upcoming Walt Disney World vacation. We discussed planning for the August vacation, particularly the use of the new FastPass Plus reservation system and the DAS, Disability Access Service Card, system.

Jeanette was pleasantly surprised at the ease with which she was able to obtain the Disability Access Service Card for her two children. A DAS card for each child gives the family of seven the ability to split up and continue to provide accommodation to their special-needs kids (or, to allow Jeanette the ability to return to the resort with one or more children if they have become overwhelmed and need a break.) She had made a point of contacting Disney’s Disabilities Relations Department and listening to the Special Mouse podcast in advance of her trip in order to familiarize herself with the Disability Access Service Card program.

We discussed Jeanette’s impression of their resort, Disney’s Old Key West, including the spaciousness of the accommodations and the quality of the resort and internal bus system.

The recurring theme of the trip report is that, despite the most attentive of planning, the family had a positive and enjoyable experience primarily because the parents adopted the attitude of flexibility and “going with the flow.”

Bree & Brian Jr. chatting with Elsa

Bree & Brian Jr. chatting with Elsa

Thanks, Jeanette, for sharing your trip and your lovely family with us!


This episode is sponsored by Amy at Up and Up Travel, specializing in helping families with Special Needs and Disabilities plan and create lasting magical memories , and by Scooter Vacationsthe only Orlando scooter rental company to provide concise weight ratings to ensure a 12-15 hour theme park ride time at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando or Sea World.


You can connect with Jeanette on Facebook HERE.

Join our awesome PRIVATE Facebook group by posting a request HERE. This is a friendly, safe place for listeners of the podcast to connect and share their thoughts on Disney travel with special needs and disabilities.

Thanks for listening!



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Pirates, Autism and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

When my family had to choose our Disney-themed costumes for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in 2009, we took our cues from my then-twelve-year-old son, Billy, who has Autism.  At first, he flatly refused to wear any costume. I’m quite sure that the only reason I was able to sweet-talk him into it was because we were going to Walt Disney World!

So, after weeks of getting “No!” “No!” “No!” as a response to “What do you want to be for Halloween?” he abruptly changed his mind. “Pirate!” he said. “I will be a pirate!”

“OK,” I said. “Billy will be a pirate.”

“And Mommy,” he declared. Okay…

“And Daddy,” he continued. “And Tricia and Catie!” (sister & cousin)

If Billy was going to dress like a pirate, we were ALL going to have to dress like pirates! Luckily, the rest of the family agreed to go along with the theme. (You end up doing quite a lot of this when living with Autism.)

As it turns out, dressing like a pirate is not that difficult to do and was an excellent choice for a group MNSSHP costume. It certainly helps that Disney has a long tradition of pirate adventure films:

For example, in 1950, Disney released Treasure Island, a live-action film adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling tale.


LongJohnSilverLong John Silver


In 2002, Disney created an animated science fiction version of this film called Treasure Planet.



JohnSilverJohn Silver

Another well-known Disney pirate was Captain Hook, the villain in the animated classic Peter Pan (1953). The film was based on the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up by J.M. Barrie.



CaptHookCaptain Hook

The franchise was modernized with Jake and the Never Land Pirates, a musical interactive animated children’s show, debuted on the Disney Junior channel in 2011.

IZZY, CUBBY, SKULLY, JAKE, PETER PANJake, Izzy, Cubby & Skully with Peter Pan



(Have you ever noticed how may pirates have prostheses?!)

Of course, there are plenty of pirates in the Disney Parks:


POC_WDWWalt Disney World


In 2003, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction inspired a series of wildly successful live action films…

JackCaptain Jack Sparrow

Which, in turn, inspired changes in the attraction!


 There were plenty of fellow “pirates” at the party that night…

TiggerTigger wearing a pirate costume!

All in all, I think “Pirates” was the perfect themed costume choice!

MNSSHP_09Our “pirate” family!

I hope you have fun getting YOUR Halloween costumes together this year! Thanks for reading!

~ Kathy 

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Sailing to Greece with Autism on the Disney Cruise Line – 043

Sailing to Greece with Autism on the Disney Cruise Line – 043

Guest Jackie Psarianos reports on her family’s recent Mediterranean sailing on the Disney Cruise Line, including multiple shore excursions in Greece!

Jackie’s family had previously sailed eight times on the Disney Cruise Line, enjoying all four ships in the fleet.  Her teenage son Andrew, pictured below, has classic autism. According to Jackie, “Andrew knows all the ships and can take you from bow to aft in a flash, with great ease and certainty, while stopping for some soft serve ice-cream along the way.”  That level of familiarity allows Andrew to move about the ships with a greater sense of independence as he becomes older and provides Jackie with a much-needed sense of security.

Of particular interest is the family’s overwhelmingly positive experience with the shore excursions booked through Disney. We discuss their visits to the Athens Acropolis, Rhodes, and Mykonos, as well as their tours of the ancient sites of Ephesus and the stadium at Olympia.

Having informed Disney ahead of time of Andrew’s sensory and behavioral challenges associated with autism, Jackie was delighted when many of the guides made her son feel valued and important by giving him the opportunity to lead the tour group by holding the Mickey Ears sign.


Andrew P.


We also discuss Jackie’s plans to apply for the 2015 Disney Parks Moms Panel, hopefully as a Disney Cruise Line specialist! The Disney Parks Moms Panel has answered countless questions from travelers planning Disney Parks and Cruise vacations since 2008.

You can read more about Jackie’s adventures on the Disney Cruise Line on her blog, The Autistic World of Disney. Connect with her on Facebook @Jackie Psarianos and on Twitter @JackiePsarianos.


Please let me know if you are interested in joining our super-supportive private group on FACEBOOK! Email me at You can also send any questions, comments or suggestions for future show topics to that address.

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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Book Review – 3500: An Autistic Boy’s Ten-Year Romance with Snow White

If you are a Disney fan and you are looking for a light summer read, I suggest you try 3500: An Autistic Boy’s Ten Year Romance with Snow White.

Ron Miles has penned a heartfelt memoir about his son Ben — a profoundly disabled young man with Autism who rode the Snow White’s Scary Adventures attraction in Walt Disney World thousands of times over the course of ten years. Through the loving eyes of his father we see how Ben’s experience with ‘Snow White’ dramatically engaged and delighted him — and even led to his first spontaneous use of words at the age of nine!

Without ever becoming heavy or depressing, the book takes us on a sometimes weird but always wonderful journey with Ben and his family as they navigate the strange world of autism and eventually discover that, for Ben, a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort that included multiple rides on Snow White was “one giant therapy session.”

“3500″ is filled with several tales of magical moments created for Ben and his family by WDW Cast Members over the years, most notably the story of how a group of Cast Members and fellow Disney fans ensured that Ben was the last person to ride the attraction before it closed permanently on May 31, 2012.

If you have anyone in your life who has been touched by autism, or even if you don’t — if you love hearing tales of “the magic” you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.


You can purchase this book in either paperback or digital formats on Amazon or on Ron Miles’ website.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kathy

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Travel Tips for the Adult with ADHD – 035

Travel Tips for the Adult with ADHD – 035

Eric Tivers, host of ADHD reWired, joins Kathy to discuss the Disney vacation planning challenges faced by adults with ADHD.




Feature Interview:  Eric Tivers is a mental health counselor and personal coach who specializes in ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. We had a fabulous and funny conversation and answered a few listener questions about Disney travel planning and adults like  him who are living with ADHD. You’ll hear Eric share that while he loves traveling and vacationing, he finds the planning part stressful. (I think he needs the services of a Disney travel agent, don’t you?!)

Eric will be speaking at the 25th Anniversary International Adult ADHD Conference  July 24-27 in Orlando, Florida.

You can find Eric Tivers at


This episode of the Special Mouse podcast is sponsored by Up & Up Travel, a Disney-dedicated travel agency that specializes in serving those with special needs and health challenges.


Tip of the Week: Today’s tip comes from my friend Heidi. Heidi is an Autism mom like me, and she has created a product called Safety ID Stickers for Kids. These double-layer stickers hide your child’s personal information while remaining highly visible if they need help. You pick the design of the sticker (there are numerous Disney themes available) and Heidi will custom print the inner sticker with the contact information you provide.

Sticker sets are available for purchase in her shop.


Big News! Special Mouse will soon be adding a BLOG to the website! I am actively seeking guest contributions related to Disney travel and guests with special needs. This is YOUR chance to share your knowledge and experience with the Special Mouse Community. Contact me at if you would like to blog with me!

Thank you to listeners GORDON LAGROW and MICHAEL J. CARRASCO for their generous contributions to Special Mouse!

Thanks for listening!


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Trip Planning with Autism, Low Vision & Sun Sensitivity – 034

Trip Planning with Autism, Low Vision & Sun Sensitivity – 034

It's a Listener Tea Party!

It’s a Listener Tea Party!

Two listeners join Kathy to discuss their upcoming trips to Walt Disney World with special-needs children.

Topics Discussed:

  • Autism
  • Ocular Albinism and low vision
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Taking kids out of school for vacation
  • GAC accommodations vs. DAS accommodations
  • Fast Pass Plus: on property guests vs. off property guests
  • Crowd calendars for planning
  • Strategies for Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet

Mentioned in today’s show:  Rit Sun Guard Protectant Laundry Treatment, available at Amazon dot com.

Connect with Amanda Bean and Nora Fitzpatrick on Facebook.

Tip of the Week: Preventing blisters while on your Disney vacation.

Did you know? The average vacationer walks somewhere between 6 and 13 miles per day at the Walt Disney World Resort? The rubbing motion between your foot and your shoe creates friction. This makes the skin on your feet prone to blisters. Reduce the friction and you reduce the chance of having blisters. One of the many ways to reduce friction is by lubricating your feet so they slide rather than rub.

There are many products (Body Glide, Sports Slick, Sport Shield) that can be found at running stores and go on like a stick of deodorant.  Band-aid makes a Friction Block Stick that you can buy at your local supermarket or pharmacy.

Apply these products on the heels, the sides of the feet, between toes, and anywhere your shoes normally rub. And if you plan to be in the parks all day, it is a good idea to re-apply sometime during the afternoon or whenever you feel your skin start to rub. Painful blisters can ruin your day and possibly your vacation, so be sure to make every effort to prevent them!

Thanks for listening and remember, the magic is for everyone!

~ Kathy

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Cruising With Autism on the Disney Cruise Line – 033

Cruising With Autism on the Disney Cruise Line – 033

Our celebration of Autism Awareness Month concludes with a visit from Jackie Psarianos from The Autistic World of Disney blog. She and her family, including her 14 year-old son with Autism, have cruised eight times with the Disney Cruise Line and are planning their ninth cruise this summer!


Topics include:

How the Disney Cruise Line accommodates families with Autism

Tips for planning a Disney Cruise with Autism

DCL Children’s and Teens’ Programs and Autism (Oceaneer Club, Oceaneer Lab, Vibe)

Dining on the Disney Cruise Line with Autism and special dietary needs

You can read Jackie’s blog, The Autistic World of Disney, and connect with her via Twitter , Facebook , and Google+


This episode of Special Mouse is sponsored by Amy at Up and Up Travel, a Disney Travel Agency dedicated to serving travelers with special needs and disabilities.


Tip of the Week:  I’ve recently begun listening to a podcast called Building Special Families, hosted by Jared Buckley, father of a 4 year-old girl with Down syndrome. This is an informative and inspiring show for parents of children with all kinds of special needs.  In his latest episode, Jared discusses Disney’s Frozen and the lessons he gleaned from the lyrics of the Oscar award-winning song, ‘Let it Go.’ It’s definitely worth a listen!

Disney’s Frozen Teaches on Social Isolation in ‘Let it Go.’


Remember to sign up for our monthly community newsletter!  Sign-up via the link in the sidebar, right.

If you enjoyed the show, kindly subscribe to the podcast and/or leave a review in iTunes — it is much appreciated!

Thanks for listening,





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Teens with Autism at Walt Disney World – 032

Maureen from Autism at the Parks joins Kathy in celebrating Autism Awareness Month with a lively chat about Teens with Autism at Walt Disney World. (Maureen’s son is nineteen and Kathy’s is sixteen.)

Topics include:

  • Aspects of the Disney theme park experience that seem easier as our children grow older
  • Things that can be more difficult to manage as our children grow older
  • How we have adjusted our vacation/visit routine to adapt to changes in behaviors, sleep and communication
  • Teens’ response to the new DAS (Disability Access Service Card) system
  • Advice for parents of older children with autism who will be visiting the Disney theme parks

Connect with Maureen Deal at Autism at the Parks and on social media: Facebook / Twitter / Google +


Kathy also shares her opinion of the Disney ADA Lawsuit filed in Federal Court this month by parents of sixteen children with Autism Spectrum Disorders who assert that the new DAS system violates the Americans With Disabilities Act.


This episode of Special Mouse was sponsored by Amy at Up and Up Travel, a travel agency solely dedicated to assisting guests with disabilities and special needs.


In addition to our Facebook Fan Page, the Special Mouse Community has a private Facebook Group where members enjoy a safe and supportive environment in which they can connect and share. If interested in joining the group, please post a message on the Special Mouse FB Fan Page. I look forward to seeing you there!

Connect with me on Social Media and sign up for our Monthly Newsletter by clicking on the icons in the sidebar, right.

Our community CHAT ROOM is open every Thursday night at 8pm, EST. Come join us for Disney-related fun and friendship!


Thanks for listening,



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Autism Means Friendship with Tommy Des Brisay! 031

Elite Paralympic Athlete and YouTube sensation, Tommy Des Brisay (and his mom) join Kathy to kick off Autism Awareness Month on the Special Mouse podcast. We discuss Tommy’s autism and his lifelong love of Disney, his service dog, Adele, and his Disney’s Frozen meet ‘n greet video that got over one million views on YouTube!

Tommy with Anna and Elsa

Tommy with Anna and Elsa

Tommy is an accomplished athlete with Autism from Ottawa, Canada. He has an Autism Assistance Dog guide, Adel. He trains with the Ottawa Lions. Tommy’s Personal Bests are: 1500m 4:23 3000m 9:21 5k- 16:32 10k- 33:54 Half Marathon 1:14:56. A T-20 (Intellectual Disability) Para-Athlete, he’s training towards competing at the Paralympic and World level. Tommy’s also a Nordic skier, kayaker, rock climber, sailor, horserider, swimmer, canoeist and mountain biker. He loves Disney, YouTube, and Facebook. Tommy could read/type words before he began to speak at about age seven. The subtitles of Disney movies helped him develop language. Tommy inspires through his determination and enthusiasm! The YouTube channel lookyus educates about Autism and allows viewers to appreciate all that a person with Autism has to share with others.

Here are the two videos mentioned during the podcast:

“Frozen” Characters Anna & Elsa meet Tommy in Norway
Olaf “In Summer” Parody: The First Fastest Runner

Visit Tommy Des Brisay’s website Autism Means Friendship.


This episode of Special Mouse is sponsored by Amy at UP AND UP TRAVEL.

Up & Up Travel is a dedicated Disney Travel Agency where we focus on partnering with our clients to create magical family vacations that truly realize their full potential. We take pride in having the most up to date & helpful information for every client need. Please let us know how we can best serve your family!  ~Amy


The Special Mouse Tip of the Week has to do with safety in the theme parks. Parents of non-verbal children with Autism often worry about becoming separated. A Runner’s ID is a good way to provide Cast Members with information about the child should he or she become separated from parents. As it says on the website, “If you can’t speak for yourself, your Road ID will speak for you.”


Please visit our Chat Room on Thursday nights, 8pm EST to connect with other listeners of the show.

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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Disney-with-Special-Needs Blogging Bonanza! – 030

Kathy shares excerpts from a dozen unofficial Disney-themed blogs written from a special needs point of view.


Here are the links to all of the blogs mentioned in our “Blogging Bonanza” episode! I hope you will enjoy discovering some new Disney blogs and re-visiting some old favorites!

The Many Adventures of a Disney-Lovin’ Spectrum Mom – Kathy Kelly – Autism, Walt Disney World
The Autistic World of Disney – Jackie Psarianos – Autism, Disney Cruise Line, Walt Disney World
DIStherapy – Didi Marie – Autism, runDisney, Disneyland
Mousecation – Laurie Smith – Special Diets and Disney Dining Reviews
Orlando Informer Blog – Special Needs are Universal – Debi Dane – Mobility, wheelchair, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, Cognitive Disabilities
Pixie Dust Girls – Ellen Gerstein – Autism, Disney Cruise Line, Walt Disney World
Return to Disney – Tricia Ballad – Autism, Walt Disney World
Rolling with the Magic – Melissa Knight Coulter – wheelchair accessibility, Walt Disney World, Disneyland
Temporary Tourist – Aunesty Janssen – Autism, Walt Disney World
WDW Dreamin’ – Amy Hughes – Autism, Walt Disney World, Disneyland
Wishing Well Travel Blog – Tabitha Nixon – Disabilities, Walt Disney World
Wishes and Pixie Dust – Mark & Jen Vitek – Autism, Walt Disney World
Fort Friends: Camping with Disabilities – Ed Russell – Fort Wilderness Camping, wheelchair runDisney
Dare to Be – Kerry Kingdon – wheelchair runDisney

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Please visit Up and Up Travel, the preferred travel agency of the Special Mouse podcast, for your free Disney vacation quote and exclusive savings offers for listeners of the show! Call 1-877-WDW-WISH or email

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Thank you for listening! Please join me for Real-Time Disney and special-needs chat in our CHAT ROOM on Thursday nights at 8pm, EST. Just click on the CHAT ROOM tab, above. Find me on Social Media by clicking the tabs in the sidebar, right.

Bye for now,

~ Kathy

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