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Autism Archives - Page 3 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'

Beta Testing the DAS Card with Fast Pass+ at Walt Disney World

Florida resident and WDW annual passholder Mark Vitek discusses his family’s first experience using Disney’s Disabilities Access Service Card (DAS) with the My Magic Plus FastPass reservation system. Mark and his wife have a 14-yr old son who has Autism. Overall, they had a positive experience at the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park.

This episode is sponsored by Amy from Up and Up Travel

Walt Disney World Disability Relations holds a weekly DAS committee meeting and they use that meeting to plan for the future of the program. They review all guest communications and discuss them at these meetings. Send your email to; address it to Disability Relations in the subject line. Specify that it for a DAS concern and give them a phone number so that they can call. It sometimes takes 2-3 weeks, but someone from Disability Relations will call you to discuss your concerns. The Cast Member that called Mark spent about an hour on the phone with Mark.

“Additional accommodations are the same as they were always meant to be.” Mark says.  “They are on a guest-by-guest, day-by-day and Park-by-Park basis. The only change is that there will be no notes in guest files anymore “guaranteeing” a certain accommodation. It all depends on how busy any Park is on any given day, how many attractions that Park has available and how much those accommodations are needed by that particular Guest. And she stressed that no Cast Member should ever be saying that there is nothing they can do, and if you hear that, ask to speak to a Manager immediately, as there is always something they can do. It might be re-ads, and they are allowed to give up to 3 sets at a time. Or it may be as simple as giving you your first return time while at the GR desk if the Park isn’t busy. How she put it to me is to simply state that you are using your FastPass and using your DAS but it just isn’t enough and you’d like just something extra to help with your day.”

You can connect with Mark on Twitter @DisFanMark. Please visit Mark and Jen’s blog, Wishes and Pixie Dust.

The Special Mouse Tip of the Week is for guests recovering from alcoholism. Alcoholism is a chronic, lifelong disease that requires continuous and lifelong treatment. It can be tempting to take a break from a program of recovery while on vacation.

It is important to plan ahead. Bring your recovery literature; the books come in travel-size.

Continue with your meetings. You’re not traveling to some remote desert island! Meetings are available locally in both the Orlando, FL and Anaheim, CA areas.  Research the locations, dates and times of meetings before your trip. There are several apps you can purchase for your phone to help you locate them. I Googled “Apps to locate Alcoholics Anonymous meetings” and several popped up. One example is available in both iTunes and in Google Play for android Devices: Steps Away-Locate Worldwide 12 Step Meetings. There are also local resources that can help you find meetings and hotlines. For the WDW area, look up Central Florida Intergroup. In the DL area, Orange County AA.

Lastly, nothing beats keeping in contact with your existing support system. Have phone numbers and email addresses for your sponsors and fellow group members. Tell them in advance that you are going on vacation and arrange to connect with someone at the end of each day. This will help you to keep yourself accountable for your actions.

Between meetings, literature and calls to sponsors you can remain focused on your recovery while on your Disney vacation.

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I’d love to chat with you on social media! Special Mouse is on Twitter @SpecialMousePod and on Facebook: Special Mouse Podcast. If you’d like to join our Community Group on Facebook, kindly leave a message on the Special Mouse page and I will contact you!

Thanks for listening,




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Autism Trip Report: First Visit to Walt Disney World, 2003

Kathy shares memories and tips from her family’s first trip to Walt Disney World. We’re going way back to September, 2003, when accommodations were easy to get, Fantasmic was scheduled nightly and the hot dog rolls at Casey’s were “real!” Ah, the good old days! Mentioned in this episode are planning for a WDW vacation, character interactions: face characters vs. fur characters, Cinderella’s Royal Table, parade and fireworks viewing tips, items to include in a “sensory” bag, dealing with aggressive birds, airplane travel with autism, and much more.
The Special Mouse Tip of the Week concerns Magic Bands and guests with Sensory Defensiveness.
Congratulations to listener Josette Smith for correctly guessing the identity of “Mickey” in the new tip of the week bumper — it’s John Saccheri aka The Big Fat Panda! Visit John’s awesome YouTube channel,
This episode of Special Mouse is brought to you by Amy at
Connect with the show @SpecialMousePod on Twitter and via the Special Mouse Podcast Facebook page.
Thanks for listening!

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A Walt Disney World/Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Special Trip Report!

Thirty-year veteran of the Walt Disney World Resort, Justin Jett, gives a report of his most recent trip. Topics discussed include touring in a power wheelchair, accessibility of his resort room, the Disability Access Service card (DAS), Magic Bands, FastPass Plus and of course, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Justin shares tips for touring with Cerebral Palsy and the sensory issues associated with High-Functioning Autism.

You can connect with Justin on Facebook and on YouTube

Thank you, Dis-Pod-Review! Podcast Spotlight: Special Mouse


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Resource Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder: Review and Discussion – 019

Maureen Deal from Autism at the Parks joins Kathy for a lively review of the Walt Disney World Resort’s NEW Resource Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder.

For more information about touring the Disney Parks with Autism, visit Autism at the Parks.

Here is a link to the Autism Speaks interview mentioned: Autism Speaks Disney Guest Assistance Card Controversy.

Here is a link to a post about the DAS Autism Social Story video I created with John Saccheri at There is Something New at the Disney Parks!

We also discussed PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line.

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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Disability Access Service Card Roundtable, Part 2: Rollout Day

In this Listener Tea Party episode, Kathy and her guests discuss the pros and cons of their guest experiences during the DAS rollout on 10/09/13 at the Walt Disney World Resort. Today’s guests are Maureen Deal (Autism at the Parks), Scarlett Litton (WDW News Today) and Aunesty Janssen (Temporary Tourist).

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Disability Access Service Card: A Round Table Discussion

In this Listener Tea Party episode, a panel of Disney Parks guests with special needs discuss how they anticipate the new Disability Access Service program will affect their park experiences and how they plan to adapt.

My Tea Party Guests:

Tracy Brooks –  Facebook , Twitter

Debi Dame –  Orlando Informer

Maureen Deal –  Autism at the Parks , Orlando InformerFacebook , Twitter

Stu Haasis Facebook , Twitter

Amy Hughes WDW Dreamin’ , Facebook , Twitter

Gordon LaGrow Cruise Directions , Facebook , Twitter 

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with a Child on the Autism Spectrum 012

In a new feature called “Listener Tea Party,” Kathy is joined by two moms who also have a child on the Autism Spectrum to chat about planning for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Walt Disney World Resort. Grab your favorite Disney mug and pull up a chair!

mickey-halloween (1)Photo courtesy

On Twitter you can connect with my guests Amy Hughes @upanduptravel and Jennifer Banks @disneyjenn1.

On Facebook Amy is Up and Up Travel and Jennifer is Jennifer Banks.

Official information about Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party can be found HERE.

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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FAQs for Scooter Newbies and a Visit From the Big Fat Panda – 011


Everything you need to know about renting an Electronic Convenience Vehicle, or “scooter”, at Walt Disney World — a conversation with JoEllen Andrew from Scooter Vacations. Then, a lively chat with John Saccheri from We discuss John’s youtube videos of Disney attractions, shot in “Pandavision” and how they are so engaging for children on the Autism Spectrum. We also talk about the Big Fat Panda Show, family memories, Give Kids the World, Disney Infinity…. let’s just say we talked and talked. And my son, Billy, makes a cameo appearance!

Scooter Vacations  delivers your scooter to your preferred location—whether that’s your hotel, arriving airline terminal, timeshare or private residence—ready for your vacation use and picks up the scooter upon your departure. Generous commissions for Travel Agents. Visit them on Facebook at Disney World Scooter Rentals.

Please visit John Saccheri’s You Tube channel Big Fat Panda and connect with him on Twitter @DisneyWorlds  and on Facebook at Bigfatpanda Disneyworlds

For information about fun volunteer activities at Give Kids the World Village, visit GKTW.

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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007 Autism At The Parks and Keeping Kosher at Walt Disney World

Maureen Deal joins Kathy to talk about her website, Autism at the Parks and Cheryl Perlmutter from the Disney Film Project discusses strategies for Keeping Kosher when visiting Walt Disney World.

Maureen Deal is a frequent contributor to Orlando Informer. Her site,  AutismAtTheParks “…is designed to provide information about vacationing in Orlando, Florida at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld for those families that may have a family member with a developmental disability.”

Connect with Maureen @AutismAtThePark on Twitter and on Facebook at Autism At The Parks.

Cheryl Perlmutter writes for On the Go in MCO, a website that “uncovers all the gems that the Theme Parks & Attractions of Orlando and Central Florida have to offer.” She also produces the Disney Film Project podcast, “the show that creates magic for one and all, by all of us talking about your favorite Disney films, and some of your not-so-favorite films.”


Connect with Cheryl @cherylp3 on Twitter and on Facebook at Disney Film Project.

Mentioned in this episode:

Kosher for the Clueless but Curious: A Fun, Fact-Filled, and Spiritual Guide to All Things Kosher

Kosher Restaurants in the Orlando Area

Pesach Villas Program in the Orlando Area

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005: Ron Miles, author of 3500: An Autistic Boy’s Ten-Year Romance with Snow White




Today I’m chatting with the father of Ben, a young man with Autism who rode Snow White’s Scary Adventures in WDW thousands of times over the course of ten years. With the help of some very special Cast Members, Ben was the last person to ride the attraction before it closed permanently on May 31, 2012.


Ben and his princess

Ben and his princess


Please visit Ron’s website,, for more information about the book and about his original song, Benjamin’s Lullaby. All proceeds from sale of both the book and the song go directly to Ben’s special needs trust fund.

Prior to the feature I answer a listener question regarding my personal experience obtaining the Guest Assistance Card at Walt Disney World earlier this month (July, 2013).

If you have questions about Disney parks and travel with special needs or health challenges, please click on the CONTACT tab (above) or tweet me @SpecialMousePod. You can also connect with the podcast on our Facebook page: Special Mouse Podcast.

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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004: WDW Autism, Soarin’ in a Wheelchair and Disney with Diabetes!


We begin with an excellent question from one of our listeners about Food Allergies and the International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot.

If you have a special-needs Disney travel question, please use the Contact Page — or — connect with me on Twitter @SpecialMousePod or on Facebook at Special Mouse Podcast!

Ray and Rachel Pilgrim from the Mouse Travel Tips podcast join me for the feature interview. We discuss their original venture,, and how it serves as a valuable planning resource for families with autism spectrum disorder.

You can connect with Ray on Facebook at Ray Pilgrim and with Rachel at Rachel Williams Pilgrim.

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Melissa Knight from the Disney on Wheels Blog gives us wheelchair accessibility tips for the Soarin’ attraction at Epcot.

You can connect with Melissa on Facebook at Melissa Knight Coulter and on Twitter @DisneyOnWheels.

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Finally, Cheryl Koren from New Jersey gives us a Special Trip Report on her recent trip to Walt Disney World with insulin-dependent diabetes and food allergies.



Cheryl blogs about Disney at Magical Memory Maker.  She is a Magic Maker with Off to Neverland Travel, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.

You can connect with Cheryl on Facebook at Cheryl Koren – Off to Neverland Travel.  Her Pinterest board is Magical Memory Maker

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Click the icons, RIGHT, to subscribe to Special Mouse in either iTunes or Stitcher!


Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy 



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Episode 001 Introducing the Special Mouse Podcast!

Welcome to the first episode of the Special Mouse Podcast! I hope to bring you both information and inspiration when it comes to Disney travel and your extra challenges.

In the Introduction, I share my own Disney-with-special-needs experience with you (my youngest child has Autism) and offer a bit of insight into why I created this podcast.

Feature Interview: Colette Krahenbuhl from Give Kids The World Village in Central Florida.

Colette details the history of Give Kids The World, a non-profit organization whose mission is “to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a memorable, joyful, cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions…”

We discuss the many ways in which listeners can support GKTW through the sharing of time, talent and/or resources.

To learn more, please visit the website at Give Kids The World. You can tweet with GKTW on Twitter @GKTWVillage

Your Special Trip Report: Bill and Tracy from Southern Illinois, USA.

Bill and Tracy share highlights from their latest (of many) trips to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Bill has Cerebral Palsy and lives with both mobility and speech impairments. We discuss the complexities of  air travel with a power wheelchair and hotel room accessibility at both the Pop Century Resort and the Boardwalk Villas. Tracy shares some of her experiences traveling and touring WDW as a person of size.


Just wait until you hear about the surprise Bill planned for Tracy during their Private Dining Experience at the Grand Floridian!  So romantic! *sigh*

If you would like to connect with Bill or Tracy you can find them on Facebook at Tracy Brooks and Bill Kaiser, and on Twitter @mrsksomeday and @kaiserb.

Thanks for listening! ~ Kathy

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