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Posts Tagged 'CerebralPalsy'

Autism on the Seas and the Disney Cruise Line! 085

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Today’s guest is Dr. Rachel Potter from Autism on the Seas!

Dr. Potter is co-chair of the volunteer Advisory Team for Autism on the Seas. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and currently serves as Director of the Graduate Teacher Education Program at Mary Baldwin College where she teaches graduate courses in special education, autism spectrum disorders, and applied behavior analysis.

Dr. Rachel Potter

Dr. Rachel Potter

She is a parent of two children, one of whom has autism.  She has cruised with Autism on the Seas as both a client (with her family) and as a Group Leader and she is here to chat with me about this wonderful organization and how it supports the autism community. Dr. Potter describes how she became involved with Autism on the Seas, first as a client family and later as a Group Leader on Autism on the Seas Cruises (including several on the Disney Cruise Line.)

AotS

 

Autism of the Seas provides a number of different services to special needs families:

  • Cruises with Staff – We discuss the various kinds of supports they provide in kids clubs and during activities while on the cruise. Another big question is toileting issues, and staff ARE able to assist with toileting.  We also discuss the special boarding, mustering and debarking procedures available for clients with sensory issues who are supported by Autism on the Seas.
  • Cruises without Staff
  • Cruise Assistance Package
  • Resort Vacations with Staff –  Autism on the Seas staff are available to assist families at Walt Disney World!

 

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Please visit the Autism on the Seas website for more information. You may reach out to Dr. Potter directly via email. 

Thanks for listening!

 

Kathy

 

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Cerebral Palsy & Sensory Processing Disorder at Walt Disney World – 082

RPayne

Richard Payne from Mad Hatter Chatter is this week’s guest. Richard shares how his family plans their Walt Disney World vacations to include the special needs of son, 8 year-old Dickie, who has mild Cerebral Palsy and Sensory Processing Disorder.

Some of the key points of our conversation were:

-Trip-Planning considerations to balance his son’s needs with the needs of the rest of the family

-Adjusting touring to avoid fatigue

-Managing sensory issues (rigidity of food preferences, noise-cancelling headphones, brushing) related to Sensory Processing Disorder

-Managing tight muscles/avoiding muscle spasms related to Cerebral Palsy (ensuring adequate hydration and rest, muscle massage, use of pool/tub)

-Using a stroller with an older child to avoid fatique

-Avoiding falls in unfamiliar resort room

-Activities other than rides that his son enjoys (Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game, interactive queues) and that foster sense of independence

-Planning FP+ reservations

-Favorite places to rest in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, DHS and Animal Kingdom

 

Richard and daughters Avery and Austin co-host a family-friendly Walt Disney World fan podcast called Mad Hatter Chatter. I highly recommend it!

Twitter: @mhchatter

Instagram: @mhchatter

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mhchatter

MHC_Logo

 

Thanks for listening!

Kathy

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Disneyland Resort and Cruising to Alaska on the DCL with a Power Wheelchair – 075

KellyD

 

Feature conversation with Kelly DeBardelaben from Colorado Springs, Colorado. She’s here to chat with me about her Disney travels with her husband. He gets around using a power wheelchair because his mobility is affected by Cerebral Palsy. The couple has cruised to Alaska with the Disney Cruise Line AND vacationed at the Disneyland Resort in California and Kelly gives us the scoop on the wheelchair accessibility of both these Disney destinations.

Some of the things we discuss are:

Airport considerations for her husband’s power wheelchair

Accessibility and space requirements for resort rooms/cabins

Reasons she and her husband love using a Disney Travel Agent to help plan vacations

No grab rails in the accessible cabins on the Disney Wonder!

Kelly’s tip to avoid sticking to a toilet seat during bathroom transfers

Ability of adults to enjoy a kid-free Disney cruise

Off-ship excursions with a power wheelchair

Disneyland attractions that accommodate a power wheelchair

Disneyland attraction queues that accommodate a power wheelchair

Using a Service Dog in Disneyland

Teaching your child how to approach people in a power wheelchair or with a service dog

 

Tip of the Week:

This week we have a question about use of the Disability Access Service accommodation, or DAS, during the after-hours hard ticket events at Walt Disney World, namely, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

MNSSHP

 

(By the way, in case you are planning to do either of these parties in 2015, tickets are on sale now!)

A few Special Mouse Community Members who have attended these parties in the past 2 years have said that the DAS is NOT implemented during the hard ticket events.

First of all, DAS Return Times are generally procured when waits in the standby queue are 20 minutes or greater. The wait times rarely reach 20 minutes during the parties. In fact, FastPass queues aren’t even open.

After the day guests leave and the parties are in full swing (7pm), most of the partygoers are there for the special party offerings – the holiday parades, the special meet-and-greets, the unique stage shows, etc., and so if you are interested in doing rides, it is a fabulous time to visit the more popular attractions as the wait times are low, low, low (particularly during parades and fireworks.)

So, the short answer is no. The DAS is not used during the parties because, like FastPass+ reservations, it simply isn’t needed!

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

Thanks for listening!

Kathy

 

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Teen with Cerebral Palsy is Rolling with the Disney Magic! 071

DOW Logo

Today’s feature guest is Andrew Prince from Ohio.  Andrew is a contributing writer of Disney on Wheels for the WDWRadio blog.  He was born with cerebral palsy and gets around in a wheelchair. (Cerebral palsy affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. It can also impact fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning.)

Andrew is an experienced wheelchair traveler and has been to both US Disney parks, several D23 events and is a DCL gold castaway member!

A.Prince

Andrew’s Disney travels began with a trip to Walt Disney World in 2003, where he met his first “crush,” Mary Poppins! Since then, he and his Disney-loving family have traveled and cruised extensively with Disney. He hopes that his blog will encourage others with cerebral palsy or other mobility challenges to pursue Disney travel on wheels!

First trip to WDW Oct 2003 Mary Poppins!

If you would like to contact him feel free to e-mail him at arprince@bex.net or look him up on Facebook and on Twitter.  Disney on Wheels itself can be accessed on Facebook here,  or you can join the Disney on Wheels Facebook Group.  The archives on WDWRadio can be accessed here.

First trip to WDW family with Mickey!

 

Tip of the Week:

This week’s tip concerns the use of Disney’s DAS (Disability Access Service) system. The DAS is used in conjunction with the FastPass system to reserve ride times for certain popular attractions. Unfortunately, theme park attractions do break down from time to time and it is particularly frustrating when they do so during your ride reservation window! What do you do when you are given a DAS return time only to discover that the attraction has broken down? This happened to our family twice on our recent WDW vacation, once at Epcot’s Test Track and once on Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom.

Because Cast Members are unable to determine how long an attraction will be out of service, they are unable to provide DAS return times while the attraction is out of service. (This is because DAS return times are based upon current standby wait times.) We discovered that CMs were unable to delete or edit our DAS return times using their handheld devices. Instead, we were directed to choose another attraction and visit the FastPass return kiosk at the new attraction to make a brand-new DAS reservation. (FastPass holders would need to do the same thing; visit a FP kiosk and make changes.)

This is one more reason why it is important to prepare the person with cognitive, psychological or developmental disabilities for the possibility of ride breakdown and a change of plans!

Mousekeeping:

Thanks and shout-outs on-air for supporters of Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide on Kickstarter!

I will be a guest on the Big Fat Panda Show later this month! Check out this fantastic youtube channel by my friend, John Saccheri. (I’ll share the link when the show goes “live!”)

Thanks for listening,

Kathy

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Magic Kingdom TR: First Visit for Child with Multiple Special Needs 069

Emmalee Disney 2

 

Today’s feature is a magical one-day mini trip report from Wayne Cordova, father of a 4-yr-old Emmalee, who has multiple special needs: cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hypotonia (muscle weakness) and developmental delay. Wayne enthusiastically shares his trip-planning strategy and how he and his wife, Tina, structured their one-day visit to the Magic Kingdom so as to ensure a successful experience for their daughter. Emmalee was able to access her must-do experiences (meeting Mickey Mouse and Anna & Elsa and riding it’s a small world) with help of the DAS and the stroller-as-a-wheelchair tag.

 

Emmalee Disney 5

 

 

Wayne believes that parents of children with multiple special needs have access to numerous planning resources that can help them ensure successful Walt Disney World trips for their families. He shares some of his resources here:

“Easy WDW was the first Crowd Calendar I looked at” –  http://www.easywdw.com/category/calendar/01-january-2015-crowd-calendar/

“The first blog I read about the DAS card” – http://temporarytourist.com/wdw-disability-assistance-serviccard-das-walt-disney-world/

“I then turned to podcasts for some info… and found WDW Radio episode 384” – http://www.wdwradio.com/2014/11/show-384-10-things-need-know-traveling-walt-disney-world-special-needs/

“Which led me to your podcast!”

Special Mouse #045 – http://specialmouse.com/5-kids-2-das-cards-1-magical-walt-disney-world-vacation-045/

Special Mouse #050 – http://specialmouse.com/disney-das-card-survey-results-050/

(I’m thrilled that our podcast was able to help the Cordova family!) You can connect with Wayne and Tina here:

Tina’s Blog  http://tinacordova.com/

Wayne’s Blog  http://www.waynecordova.com/

Wayne’s Podcast  http://www.geekpastor.com/

Social:

http://Twitter.com/WayneCordova

http://Facebook.com/GeekPastor

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Tip of the Week:

The DAS system is expected to go digital this week at the WDW resort and there will be a slight change in procedure. Our tip is to assist you during the transition period.

Here is how it will work:

1.) Visit Guest Relations in any park and request the DAS – The person in need of accommodation will need to have the entire party present.

2.) The Guest in need of the DAS accommodation will have a picture taken and his or her name will be entered into the system. (Up to now, the procedure is the same as before.)  Now the information will also be placed on the guest’s MagicBand.

3.) To use the DAS, the Guest will go to an attraction and have their MagicBand read via the Cast Member’s scanner. The photo and information of the Guest needing the DAS will come up and the CM will verify that it matches the guest wearing the MagicBand.

The scanner will then provide a return time.

4.) Upon return to the attraction, the Guest who had the DAS assigned to them MUST scan his MagicBand first, followed by the rest of the party. If not done in that order, it won’t register.

The picture and name of the Guest needing the DAS will then be verified by the CM before the group will be allowed to enter the attraction.

 

Naturally, there may be a few bugs in the system during the first week or two, so today’s tip of the week to help you through the transition comes to us from two Special Mouse listeners.  Maureen says,

“As a precaution so we don’t lose them, I’m going to take a screen shot of my FP+ times before I load any DAS return times into the MDE app. I know they are supposed to be in two different parts of the system, but they still have issues with FP+ messing up and I don’t want to take the risk.”

And this is echoed by Sue, who says,

“We’ve used the MDE for Fastpasses on 4 trips now and we always take screenshots.

You can go back to view them in the MDE app whenever you want, but sometimes the wifi in the parks is better than others.

So, rather than use up phone power trying to connect to wifi or use phone data time, we just do screenshots at the beginning of the day and each time we make a change.”

* * * * * * * * * *

MY sincere thanks to all of you who have pledged to support the publication of Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide and for tolerating the many, many messages about it that I’ve been sharing this month on social media. I promise that they will stop on May 7th when the campaign ends!

If you or someone you know will be traveling to WDW with a teenager or a child on the autism spectrum in the near future, pledging to the Kickstarter is a way for you to pre-order the book so that you have it on DAY ONE of its release.

There are lots of additional rewards for pledging and so I urge you to visit the page before the campaign ends on May 7th and thank you again for your friendship and your support!

Kick-Image-B

 

~ Kathy

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Our Listener Community: Meet Bill! Traveling “The World” in a Power Wheelchair

 

Bill K.

 

Note: this article originally appeared in my ‘Faces in the Queue’ column on WDW Fan Zone.

 

The lift groaned softly as it hoisted its precious cargo higher and higher into the air. Three hundred-plus pounds of man and machine (mostly machine) locked into position with a shudder and a snap.  With mounting excitement, Bill prepared to board the Magical Express bus while seated in his power chair.  He chuckled to himself as he looked down… w-a-a-y down… at his nervous fiancé staring up at him from the pavement below.

Tracy caught sight of Bill’s face, saw the twinkle in his eyes, and realized she had been holding her breath. She exhaled deeply, willing herself to relax.  “I have to stop worrying so much,” she thought as she smiled up at her Prince Charming. Bill could always make her feel as though everything would be all right. “But I will never get used to seeing him hanging off the side of the bus like that!” she thought. Once he was safely inside, she boarded the bus that would take them to the Pop Century resort. But instead of sitting next to Bill, she pulled out her camera and slid into the front seat!  She just had to get that perfect shot of the sign welcoming guests to Walt Disney World!

Bill watched her making her preparations and smiled. Then his smile grew to an all-out grin as he anticipated her reaction to the flower arrangement that would greet her as she entered their room at Pop.  This romantic gesture had become a tradition for him and every trip it produced a satisfying flood of happy tears from his sentimental fiancé.

Bill had introduced Tracy to WDW in 2006, just a little over a year after they had begun dating.  Although he had visited the World several times previously, she had been a bit apprehensive before their trip and had thrown herself into a flurry of research.  Thirty-six years of living with the effects of Cerebral Palsy had strengthened Bill both mentally and emotionally, but Tracy wasn’t entirely sure he would be up to it physically.

Cerebral Palsy is caused by a brain injury that affects the way the brain controls muscle movements. Not everyone who has CP shares the same number or severity of symptoms, but all have problems with mobility and balance. Bill’s CP affects his muscles to such a degree that he is unable to walk and must be physically transferred in and out of his wheelchair. He has muscle spasms hundreds of times each day and constant pain in his right ankle. He only has the use of his left hand because his right hand stays closed and that arm is prone to sudden, involuntary movements… he calls it “Wild Thing!”

Every single activity of daily living is a challenge for Bill.  Yet here he was, asking his girlfriend… a self-proclaimed worry-wart… to go on what she thought would be a grueling theme park vacation! He used his best powers of persuasion and eventually Tracy decided it was useless trying to resist. “I look into those deep blue eyes and I just melt!” On that vacation she fell in love with Walt Disney World almost as quickly as she had fallen in love with him.  Four years later they took their eighth trip to Disney together.

I caught up with Bill recently and asked him about his passion for Walt Disney World and what his thoughts were on Disney’s extraordinary ability to accommodate guests with special needs.

BillandTracy

 

KATHY:  Bill, you recently visited WDW for the thirteenth time; I suppose you could say you’re a big fan!

 

BILL:  Yes I am a big WDW fan. My first time was my 10th birthday and enjoyed every minute of it.

 

KATHY:  I’d like to talk about how and why you’ve developed a passion for the World.

 

BILL:  The main reason is it is very wheelchair accessible. When Disney creates a new ride they always try to design it so users can stay in our chairs.

 

KATHY:  You have multiple physical challenges because of your CP: muscle spasms, balance & mobility issues, and speech that can be difficult to understand for those who don’t know your speech pattern. How do you manage all that and still have such boundless energy and enthusiasm for WDW?

 

BILL: I don’t let my disability get the best of me.  I try to live my life to the fullest, there is always a way to make the muscle spasms not as severe.  When I get to WDW I forget about the pain, there is so much going on my mind doesn’t focus on it.  As for having enthusiasm for WDW, I feel normal there.  Most CM’s [Cast Members] go out of the way to make me feel special but not because of my disability.

 

KATHY: Tracy has said that you two love Disney because you are accepted for what you are and not what you look like. Tell me more!

 

BILL:  People don’t talk down to me there, like I have a mental disability as well as a physical.  That happens a lot in the “real world”.  Many people in our town shy away from people with disabilities; they don’t know what to say so they don’t say anything.  At WDW people, both guests and CM’s, talk to each other.  No one knows a stranger, people say hi, if you have a button on you are congratulated.  People talk to me about my pins, if I am having a good day in the park, and ask me questions about accessibility.  I have even been mistaken for a CM 3 times in one day and that made me feel wonderful.  It let me see that people were more accepting of CM’s in wheelchairs.

 

KATHY:  Do you see yourself working as a Cast Member one day?

 

BILL: That is a dream of mine.  I would love to work in special events, coordinating the accessiblity of things.  It would be wonderful to work in the department that deals with accessiblity in the parks.  If we ever move to Florida Tracy and I really want to volunteer for Give Kids the World too.

 

Kathy: That’s an amazing organization.

[Give Kids The World is a non-profit organization that exists only 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, and to enjoy the magic of Give Kids The World Village for as long as there is a need.]

 Kathy: Another thing that I find amazing is that you’ve earned not one but three college degrees and recently completed you Master’s in rehabilitation management. Whew!

 

BILL:  I did get burned out at times, but I wanted to complete my degrees.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my family and Tracy.  I am hoping with all my schooling a potential employer will look past my disability and see my mind, my personality, and that I go after what I want.

 

KATHY:  You’re a big, big Star Wars fan… and a fan of Yoda in particular. He’s known to have said, “Try? There is no try… do!  Do you think that describes your personality?

 

BILL:  I have that tee shirt, yes it describes my personality.   I don’t take no for an answer.  If there is one way I am not able to do something, I find other ways of getting it done.  A teacher once told our class “if you want something you have to go to it, it won’t come to you” and I always remembered that.

 

KATHY: I’m sure that this kind of attitude is born from a lifetime of overcoming so many obstacles that able-bodied people don’t have to contend with.

 

BILL: I was very lucky, my parents always supported what I wanted to do and helped me overcome things that got in my way.  I want to summer camps with persons with disabilities and it helped me see I could do things.  The object of the camp was to help me grow as a person and not be shy.  They helped me to see I could do many things if I worked hard enough.

 

KATHY: Yet our differences seem to blur at Walt Disney World… why do you think that’s so?

 

BILL: There is a common bond, our love for Disney.  They make it where able bodied and persons with disabilities can enjoy experiences together.

 

KATHY: And that’s why you’ve been back thirteen times! Tell me, how was your last trip compared to that first one way back when you were ten years old?

 

BILL: The parks are a lot more accessible.  When I went there when I was 10 there was only Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  Magic Kingdom wasn’t very accessible; the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] wasn’t in effect yet.  I transferred out of my chair so much more back then. I am more comfortable now since I can stay in my own wheelchair.  I feel a lot more independent now, I could go to the parks by myself if I wanted and ride many things.

 

KATHY: I think that’s the way Walt would’ve wanted it! Tell me about one special memory of Disney magic.

 

BILL: Tracy’s birthday special this trip, so I enlisted our friends Toni and Terry who were in WDW at the same time as us to help me.  Terry went with me to the Boardwalk area and I got Mickey head earrings and a necklace for Tracy.  Toni helped by arranging with the manager of `Ohana to let [me] have flowers delivered there.  I picked out the arrangement, gave Toni my [credit card] number and she made it happen.  I didn’t want Tracy seeing me ordering from the Disney Florist.  The day Toni and Terry left they had breakfast at `Ohana and dropped off the jewelry to be ready for Tracy’s surprise.  When the host took us to be seated, the flower arrangement was on the table with the two jewelry boxes opened.  We had a table with a great view of Holiday Wishes and had a wonderful evening.  It was perfect.

 

KATHY:  How romantic! And to think, you met Toni and Terry online at a Disney fan site! How do you think the social network… Discussion Forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc… has affected the way we approach our Disney vacations?

 

BILL:  For us it has added to our vacations.  Tracy is the one that goes on the DISboards, Be Our Guest, etc., and formed friendships there that evolved into wanting to meet people in the parks.  Our first DISmeet was with you and your wonderful family and showed us how you really could form a bond with someone over a common love for something such as WDW.  We have been blessed to meet amazing people that we would love to see again and again.

 

KATHY:  Well, Bill, I know the Special Mouse readers will enjoy meeting you! Okay, let’s finish with some rapid-fire Q&A about your WDW favorites, all right?

 

BILL: Okay!

 

KATHY: Okay…. your favorite park?

 

BILL: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

 

KATHY: Favorite thing to do at the Studios?

 

BILL: Toy Story Mania is my favorite ride for all the parks. We also have to see Beauty and the Beast.

 

KATHY: Okay! Now… your favorite resort?

 

BILL:  Port Orleans French Quarter.

 

KATHY:  Favorite non-park activity?

 

BILL:  Eating, LOL!  (Just kidding)  Resort hopping and buying pins in DTD [Downtown Disney.]

 

KATHY: I think I already know the answer to this next one… favorite Disney restaurant?

 

BILL:  `Ohana. [The Polynesian Resort]

 

KATHY:  Ha! I was right!  How about counter service eats?

 

BILL:  Sunshine Seasons. [The Land Pavilion in Epcot]

 

KATHY: Tough one, now… favorite Disney character?

 

BILL: Buzz Lightyear.

 

KATHY:  And finally… you’ve visited WDW at many different times of the year. What’s your favorite time to visit and why?

 

BILL:  After the Christmas decorations are put up.  There is nothing like going through the parks seeing the beautiful decorations and hearing the happy Christmas music.  The lights on the Castle are just amazing, it is beautiful.

 

KATHY:  Thanks so much for giving up so much of your Sunday night to talk with me! Would you like to add anything else?

 

BILL:  In my opinion, no theme park compares to WDW in accessibility and customer service.

 

KATHY:  I agree, completely!

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

The next time you visit Walt Disney World, keep a sharp eye open for Bill. It should be easy to spot him… he’ll be wearing a lanyard full of pins on his chest and a huge grin on his face as he zips along in his Quickie P-222.  Go ahead… say hello! Take some time to talk a little Disney with him. Just like you, Bill is one Special Mouse!

 

~Kathy

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The Law of Attraction and Air Travel with a Power Wheelchair – 044

airplane-sunset-300x217

 

Kathy discusses special-needs Disney travel and the Law of Attraction, plus air travel with a power wheelchair on this “solo flight” episode! 

There’s no guest this week, so as Mr. Incredible would say, “you’ve got me monologuing!” I’m acting on one of the takeaways from Podcast Movement and giving you an actionable tip about keeping a healthy attitude towards travel with additional challenges by observing the Law of Attraction. In a nutshell: stay positive so you don’t attract negative stuff!

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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 Vacations, the 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.

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One of the best things about the Special Mouse Podcast community group on Facebook is that it gives listeners a chance to ask travel questions of, and give valuable insight to, other members of the group. It’s especially helpful to hear from experienced Disney travelers who share your particular challenges. Recently we had a question that I thought would make for an excellent show topic so, here we go:

Tricia asks:  Hi everyone! It looks like our next Walt Disney World trip is going to be a little more special than expected — my sister-in-law and our niece are going to join us! Our niece has cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair. We’re not worried about her once we get to WDW, but has anyone had any experience with flying with a wheelchair? Will the airline let her stay in her chair for the flight, or will he have to transfer to an airline seat and check the chair in the baggage hold? Thanks!

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandate all airports and airlines operating within the United States to be fully accessible to disabled travelers and for their assistive equipment. With few exceptions, power chair users should expect to receive these accessible services:

  • Wheelchair accessible parking near the airport terminal
  • Shuttle service to parking lots, airport terminals, and/or hotels
  • Access to  ticket kiosks, baggage check areas, security checkpoints, etc.
  • Accessible restrooms throughout the terminal
  • Complimentary wheelchairs for passenger use, as needed
  • ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps and/or mechanical lifts
  • Preferential pre-boarding and priority seating
  • Storage for power chairs, scooters and other devices
  • Assistance with luggage, boarding and deplaning

It is my understanding that travelers who use wheelchairs, whether motorized or not, are required to transfer to a seat on the plane and check their motorized wheelchairs as baggage. The airline may provide a folding wheelchair to help squeeze through the narrow airplane aisle.

Special Mouse listeners chime in with their advice:

Paula writes: “She can stay in the chair until boarding. They will gate-check the chair at no charge to her. I would take off anything that is removable and carry it on with you (no charge for that either). I would also take a picture of all sides of the chair. I’ve never had anything happen to mine, but it is always better to be safe than sorry!”

Tracy writes:  “Call the airline before your flight date to talk about their procedures and what you need to do when you get to the airport. Ask where you need to check the chair.

Once you get to the airport, you will fill out paperwork asking several questions about the chair such as color, weight, type of batteries, etc. You should note any damage or wear and tear when checking the chair in.

Take pictures of the chair before you get on the flight.

Take anything off that is detachable…seat, foot rests, headrest, etc. Stow these items inside the plane with you.

Give them instructions about how you want the chair to be treated. Bill has a custom back and we tell them specifically to NOT detach the back. I got some of the blank luggage tags at the airport and wrote, “Do not remove back” and placed them on several parts of the chair.

Know how to turn the power off and on and how to disengage the motors to be able to put the chair into manual, they might ask you how to do this. We don’t mind if the airline keeps the power on to get the chair down on the tarmac; Bill turns it down to the lowest setting. Some people prefer to have them not use the power but some power chairs are extremely hard to push in manual so we don’t do that.

If the person is unable to walk there are aisle chairs to help. I am unsure how much the flight attendants can help since I am able to lift Bill and put him in a seat.”

(The answer is, no. Flight attendants are not required to assist you with transfers to either your seat or to the restroom. And in truth, you wouldn’t want untrained individuals assisting with transfers because they could hurt either you or themselves in the process. – Kathy)

“You will be one of the last people of the plane. I gather our belongings including all the detachables and place them just outside the plane door. When the chair arrives they will be ready for me to get Bill and go, but I take time to look over the wheelchair to make sure everything is okay. After re-attaching everything I place Bill in the chair. Once we are clear of the gate Bill makes sure that the chair drives correctly.”

Matthew writes: “I would add a few more things, as I have had my chair damaged when I went to Disneyland and Disney World. Trust me, you don’t want to get to the parks and have a power wheelchair not work. Take the control/joy stick off when she boards the plane, also take the cushion as she may be able to use it in the plane or you can put it in the overhead compartment. Dis-engage the drive motors when she gets out of the chair, it should have a lever on each motor.”

From wheelchair.com: It is very important to know how to disconnect the power from the batteries when you get to the aircraft. Locate the cable and mark each half of the connector with yellow tape. Practice separating and reconnecting the connectors. This may keep them from pulling your batteries out of the chair. If you cannot disconnect the joystick on your chair model, you may want to consider bringing along some bubble wrap and packing tape to protect it and any other areas that are likely to become damaged.

“When they bring the chair to you, look it over before you accept it. I have had damage done to part of the frame of the chair that I didn’t see, but my daughter did. So due diligence is needed when flying.

The airlines will ask what the chair weighs and also what type of battery it has. I would recommend having the information before you get to the airport. Always check in with the gate personnel when you get to your gate, as they will need to know if you need an aisle chair and what they can do to help you get to the seat, and the information about the chair. It can become stressful flying when your use a power wheelchair, but if you just do these few things and remember to have fun, you will make it much easier. I have found out that the more I fly, the easier it gets and the less stressful it becomes.”

From sath.org (The Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality): There are two types of batteries used in motorized wheelchairs: wet acid batteries or dry cell (gel) batteries. If your wheelchair is older and has a wet acid battery you should check with the airline, as a leaking battery inflight can be dangerous. It will be necessary for baggage handlers to remove the battery and place it in a special container. This requires that you be at the airport at least three hours before departure.

Most modern power-operated wheelchairs have some form of dry cell safety battery so that they can be carried without risk of damage to the aircraft. However, it may be necessary for baggage handlers to disconnect the leads from the terminal and to cap them to avoid shorting. This may take some time, so you will have to preboard. It may be necessary to transfer you to a special aisle wheelchair in the air terminal, and be prepared for the fact that there may be a delay on arrival before your chair is available.

The airlines are responsible for ensuring that your battery is reconnected and that your chair is working on arrival at your destination.

Regarding the weight of your power chair, this is very important information because airlines have varying limits when it comes to weight. Each airline should be able to tell you whether the weight of a particular model wheelchair falls under the limits at the time of your ticket purchase.

In the event of a problem with airport or inflight personnel, you should require them to contact the Complaints Resolution Officer (CRO), who must always be available and willing to deal with your grievance. They cannot refuse. However, to avoid problems, make sure that you let the airline know your needs as early as possible. Also, make sure you have adequate insurance to cover damages to or loss of your wheelchair or scooter as well as personal injury.

Under the ACCA, U.S. airlines are responsible for all repairs to damaged wheelchairs. However, if the chair is lost or damaged beyond repair, the airlines are only responsible for the original purchase price. Therefore, it’s a good idea to know both the purchase price and the replacement cost of their assistive devices and to be aware of the difference between these two figures. If the difference is substantial, you may want to carry additional insurance with a high deductible to cover this gap.

It’s also important to remember to report any damage to your wheelchair immediately. In most cases this means before you leave the airport. The airline may deny a claim if they feel it is not filed in a timely manner. Additionally, under the ACCA, airlines are not required to respond to complaints that are more than 45 days old.

If you are unwilling to risk damage to your power wheelchair there is another alternative — if possible, don’t bring it!

Skip writes: “I cannot fly commercial with the power chair. We take the Convaid stroller on commercial flights.”

The bottom Line: Do what is best for you!

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Links:

How to Travel by Air with a Wheelchair – sath.org

Air Travel Tips for Power Wheelchairs – wheelchairtraveling.com

On a Wing and a Prayer: Protecting Your Equipment – barrierfreetravel.net

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These were some valuable tips! If you would like to join our private group on Facebook, email me at specialmousepodcast@gmail.com.

Thanks for listening!

~ Kathy

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“Never Give Up!” Sarah Kate’s Triumph at the Disney Kids One Mile Run – 037

“Never Give Up!” Sarah Kate’s Triumph at the Disney Kids One Mile Run – 037

Kathy talks with Sarah Kate, a spunky eleven year-old girl with Cerebral Palsy. Sarah Kate’s refusal to quit inspired a standing ovation as she crossed the finish line of the Kids One Mile Run during the Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon Weekend this past February, 2014. If this story of guts and determination doesn’t give you goose bumps, then nothing will!

2014/63 - Disney Princess 1-Mile (11 of 12)

 

Here is the Blog Post about Sarah Kate’s One Mile Run at Bringing the Sunshine, where her mom, Andi Sligh,  blogs about “Life with a Double Dose of Special (Needs)” Sarah Kate was born with Cerebral Palsy and her brother, Nathan, with Down Syndrome. While you are there, download her FREE e-book for parents of special-needs children, There’s Sunshine Behind the Clouds.

Here is the link to Bringing the Sunshine on Facebook.

If you require accommodation at a runDisney event, The runDisney team can be reached by emailing runDisney@disneysports.com or calling 407-938-3398. Please do so at least 90 days prior to your event!

EDITED, 6/20/14:  Here is the article and video by runDisney we mentioned during the show!

“I’m a Runner, I’m a Champion” — I runDisney!

 

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Tip of the Week:

Boat Service is available in several locations throughout the Magic Kingdom area of the Walt Disney World Resort. Accessibility varies according to location. The Magic Kingdom ferry transports passengers between the Ticket and Transportation Center and the Magic Kingdom. Smaller boats connect the Magic Kingdom Area resorts (Fort Wilderness, Contemporary/Bay Lake Tower, Wilderness Lodge/Villas, Grand Floridian/Villas, and The Polynesian.) Wheelchairs and strollers must be folded up and carried on board and no ECVs are allowed. It’s important to know that you may need to step either up or down into the boat depending on water levels.

ECVs can be accommodated on the motor cruisers that run from the Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge/Villas unless water levels are too low. In this case, signs will be posted on the docks.

Alternative transportation is available via bus or monorail, depending upon resort.

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To all my listeners who sent me messages of support and encouragement during my son’s recent hospitalization, you have my deepest thanks and appreciation. I am so very grateful to have such abundant love and friendship in my life!

Thanks for listening,

Kathy

**Don’t forget to click on the link in the sidebar, right, to receive our monthly Special Mouse Community Newsletter!

 

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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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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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