Strict Standards: Declaration of truethemes_sub_nav_walker::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker_Nav_Menu::start_lvl(&$output, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/theme-specific/navigation.php on line 79

Strict Standards: Declaration of truethemes_sub_nav_walker::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker_Nav_Menu::end_lvl(&$output, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/theme-specific/navigation.php on line 79

Strict Standards: Declaration of truethemes_sub_nav_walker::start_el() should be compatible with Walker_Nav_Menu::start_el(&$output, $item, $depth = 0, $args = Array, $id = 0) in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/theme-specific/navigation.php on line 79

Strict Standards: Declaration of truethemes_sub_nav_walker::end_el() should be compatible with Walker_Nav_Menu::end_el(&$output, $item, $depth = 0, $args = Array) in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/theme-specific/navigation.php on line 79

Strict Standards: Declaration of truethemes_gallery_walker::start_el() should be compatible with Walker_Category::start_el(&$output, $category, $depth = 0, $args = Array, $id = 0) in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/theme-specific/navigation.php on line 154

Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method truethemes_sidebar_generator::init() should not be called statically in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 525

Strict Standards: Non-static method truethemes_sidebar_generator::get_sidebars() should not be called statically in /home4/kathyrn/public_html/wp-content/themes/Sterling/framework/extended/multiple_sidebars.php on line 60
Walt Disney World with Autism Archives - 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 'Walt Disney World with Autism'

Autism on the Seas and the Disney Cruise Line! 085

image1

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!

 

image3

 

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

 

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (2) →

Kathy’s Trip Report: Walt Disney World with a Teenager who has Autism

The tables are turned as guest co-host Kim Slusher from the DIStracted Life podcast interviews Kathy about her family’s latest Walt Disney World vacation with a teenager who has Autism!

P1020254

We talked about many things, including:

How I prepared for visiting Walt Disney World with the challenges of my son’s autism.

Our l-o-n-g two-day drive from New Jersey to Florida (and why we chose to drive instead of fly.)

My impression of the one-bedroom villa at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower.

My son’s first experience using Magic Bands, the DAS (Disney’s accommodation for guests with cognitive and behavioral disabilities), and how we managed when attractions broke down.

Our VIP backstage meet ‘n greet with the cast of Finding Nemo: The Musical!

P1020251

Our experience with the Frozen Summer Kickoff, a 24-hour event at the Magic Kingdom, and how that and the Memorial Day holiday affected crowds.

The first-ever Special Mouse Podcast listener  Walt Disney World meet-up!

IMG_0399

It was fun meeting some of you “in real life.”

The importance of taking breaks, both during your day and during your vacation.

…and much more!

Kim’s two children also have “invisible” special needs. Our respective experiences with the DAS were discussed at length, including our overall impression of the new system of accommodation and how it may not truly accommodate all people on the autism spectrum.

 

Image 1350

Here’s Kim with her lovely family!

I’ll return with the usual show format next week.

Thanks for listening!

Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

Autism and the Disney Factor

Continuing with our Guest Post Series for Autism Awareness Month, here is the lovely Didi Marie from DisTherapy:

disney autism goofy muscles

 

Disney themes are many and universally appealing.  Mickey Mouse has entertained for 87 years with a pure, simple and honest heart.  Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, Cinderella, Snow White have often been described as “maidens pure of heart.”  And who would break Sleeping Beauty’s spell?  A man of pure heart who would fall in love with her.  The autism community has for years told anecdotal stories of the allure and sometimes transformative nature of Disney movies and the Disney Parks.  For my son, it was the trips to these parks that first sparked language, attention and curiosity.  Early on, I had many the spirited conversations with the faculty and administrators at his special education center-based program; they feared that removing him from the structure and predictability of his services would be a dangerous loss of valuable time.  However, by the time he entered Kindergarten, they all but included our twice yearly Disney trips into his IEP!  His leaps ahead in attaining milestones were that remarkable and undeniable.  In my 20 years affiliation with autism schools, I have heard similar tales over and over again. What is it about the Disney magic that calls to these children and adults so uniquely??

 

 


Intellectually, one would think that Walt Disney World would cause complete sensory overload for an autism spectrum individual; the action is constant, the shows and fireworks are LOUD, the many park aromas greet Guests at Main Street, U.S.A., and can often be quite hot, humid and crowded.  How, then, do so many of these children and young adults overcome these obvious obstacles and come to be drawn in?

 

We have recently read of the Disney movie affinities of  New York Times Magazine journalist Ron Suskind’s son.  But the deep, almost magical connections with Disney Characters is something very familiar to the autism community.  Dare I say, Disney “breakthroughs” are far more common than have been documented.

I have my own take.  In the almost three decades that I worked as a physical therapist with both the autism and Downs communities, I have many, many times said that I have seen the face of God.  I will include my own son in that grouping; youngsters who are simple, honest and pure of heart and without the trappings of envy, competition, bullying or any other of the seven deadly sins.  My guess is that that the innocence and goodness that is at the soul of the Disney brand is what attracts these individuals the most.  Perhaps the fantasy and fable that is so exaggerated by Disney Characters is a non-threatening safe haven for them.  The storytelling that Walt Disney is most famous for is more powerful than we thought.  There’s magic in that “whole new world.”  And that trumps any Disney commercial I’ve ever seen…

Didi Marie

DIStherapy

* * * * * * * * * *

Thank you, Didi! (My, your sons have done a bit of growing since these photos were taken!)

 This Guest Blogger series for Autism Awareness Month is brought to you by my upcoming book, Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide. I would be most grateful if you would visit my project page on Kickstarter to learn more about the book and how you can pre-order your copy. Thanks!

Kathy

Kick-Image-B

Posted in: Blog

Leave a Comment (1) →

How a Disney Horse Helped Diagnose My Daughter’s Autism

This is a guest blog submitted by Nancy Romps as part of our Autism Awareness Month and Disney celebration. Enjoy!

* * * * * * * * *

Four days into an extended-family trip to Walt Disney World, I was three hours into occupying a couple of square feet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But I wasn’t in line for a thrill ride, a Mickey ice cream bar or even the restroom; I was hanging out with a horse.

Colleen-2

No, not a live horse, or even a costumed character. It was a life-size statue, complete with saddle and stirrups, outside one of the Studios’ many gift shops. And after four straight days of sensory overload and overstimulation, it was exactly where my then 6-year-old daughter, Colleen, needed to be.

For almost two years, our family had been searching for a diagnosis that would put a name to Colleen’s differences and help us navigate her needs. Mother’s instinct had whispered “autism” early in the process, but the professionals just couldn’t come to a consensus. One neuropsychologist actually congratulated us when her testing didn’t indicate autism, but my mood was far from celebratory. All I knew was we were no closer to understanding what was going on than when we began.

A resort known for loud noises and crowds certainly wouldn’t have been my first choice at that point in time, but because the trip was a gift from my in-laws I was determined to make the best of it. Overall Colleen enjoyed the sights and time with the extended family, but she wasn’t able to handle more than an hour or two in the parks before zoning out. Time and again, heading toward an exit with my daughter while the rest of the family sought out attractions and thrills, I decided that we were doing Disney “wrong” … until a horse told me otherwise.

We weren’t 100 yards past the entrance to the Studios when Colleen spotted the horse and begged for a closer look. She immediately hoisted herself onto the saddle and lost herself in imaginative play. For the first time on the trip, she seemed totally at ease and at peace. We had nowhere in particular to be and the spot was shady, so we hunkered down with our new equine friend. From atop the horse, Colleen contently watched the crowds, street performers and even the afternoon parade. Five years later, she remembers exactly how she felt on “her” horse that day: “Happy. Safe. Secure.”

After the trip, I immediately put in a call to the children’s hospital where Colleen had been undergoing evaluations and asked to be seen as soon as possible by a different neuropsychologist. This time I insisted that we dig deeper for answers. Among my list of atypical behaviors, the one that stopped the new neuropsychologist in her tracks was my report of our time with the horse at Disney. It was just one piece to our puzzle, but it was enough for the professionals to understand what they had missed the first time around.

Six months later, after a fresh set of testing, we had a definitive diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. And because the result was like winning my personal Super Bowl, this was my reaction: “We’re going to Disney World.”

Yes, we would return to Walt Disney World. But this time I was armed with more than sunscreen, comfortable shoes and cash: I would have information. Research brought me to resources about managing autism in the parks (in particular, the trip reports written by The Special Mouse’s own Kathy Kelly; support her Kickstarter book project here!). I knew that flexibility would be the key to our enjoyment, not how many attractions we rode or how many characters we met.

For that second family trip, I crafted comfortable mouse ears for Colleen out of felt and a soft black headband. And because of this and subsequent visits to the World, I have learned that it makes perfect sense to ride Spaceship Earth on repeat on cool summer nights. And that you can spend happy hours watching lizards scamper around the landscaping, or crashing a courtyard wedding from the safety of your hotel’s balcony.

And, above all, we now know that even after you learn to enjoy the sights and attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll always find time to visit an old friend.

Colleen-3

Colleen at age 7, one year after first meeting “her” horse at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

* * * * * * * *

Thank you for your post, Nancy!

This blog series is brought to you by Walt Disney World with Autism: a Special Needs Guide. Please visit our page on Kickstarter to support it’s publication — thanks!

~ Kathy

Posted in: Blog

Leave a Comment (3) →

Walt Disney World with Autism: What’s a Kickstarter, Anyway?

Please read!

Today is National High Five Day (who knew?)

After a bit of research I discovered that National High Five Day was started in 2002 at the University of Virginia. A group of students organized a fundraiser, giving out high-fives and lemonade. The idea spread and over the years peoples of all ages and backgrounds have celebrated National High Five Day every third Thursday in April by giving high-fives all day to friends, co-workers and strangers.

Well, this is perfect timing! The Kickstarter campaign to help publish Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide is in full swing: one week down, three weeks to go! I’m so very grateful to everyone who has already pledged their support. HIGH FIVE!

It's National High Five Day! (1)

I have to admit, however, that I’m feeling a myriad of emotions today. Excitement, apprehension, gratitude and anxiety top the list. Apprehension? Anxiety? Yes! Running a crowdfunding campaign can be rather stressful!

It occurs to me that some of my listeners, readers, friends, supporters — “you guys” — may not be familiar with crowdfunding in general and Kickstarter in particular. (I get the impression that a lot of people are clicking on the Kickstarter link expecting to purchase the book, get confused and just leave.) So, here’s a quick little tutorial from their website:

Kickstarter 101

What are the basics?

A project is a finite work with a clear goal that you’d like to bring to life. Think albums, books, or films.

The funding goal is the amount of money that a creator needs to complete their project.

Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. No one will be charged for a pledge towards a project unless it reaches its funding goal. This way, creators always have the budget they scoped out before moving forward.

A creator is the person or team behind the project idea, working to bring it to life.

Backers are folks who pledge money to join creators in bringing projects to life.

Rewards are a creator’s chance to share a piece of their project with their backer community. Typically, these are one-of-a-kind experiences, limited editions, or copies of the creative work being produced. (The book!)

How does Kickstarter work?

Every project creator sets their project’s funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

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

Funding is all or nothing. That’s where the stress comes in!

I am so very committed to this book. There are hundreds, if not thousands of families out there who want to share in the magic of Walt Disney World but are afraid that their children with autism will not be able to tolerate the experience. I know that I can help them; I just don’t have the money to publish my book.

One week down, three weeks to go.

Please help me to help you! Pledge to back this book project today! Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide

Thanks!

Kathy

Why Worry

Posted in: Blog

Leave a Comment (0) →

Celebrating Autism Awareness with Jackie Psarianos from The Autistic World of Disney

Our celebration of Autism Awareness Month and Disney continues with this Guest Post from Jackie Psarianos:

Andrew P.

My son is primarily non-verbal. It is difficult engaging him in any conversation. He does not like to be touched or hugged.

Andrew is fifteen with a developmental age of three. He loves the movie Toy Story and the Disney characters Buzz Lightyear and Woody. It is for that reason we love Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ attraction ‘Toy Story Mania’.

Every time we vacation at any of the Disney Parks we see great social and developmental improvements. Andrew comes into his own and into our world many times during those vacations. That is what keeps us coming back time and time again, coupled with Cast Members anticipating our needs, makes for a positive and memorable experience.

One visit to Toy Story Mania stands out in my mind, Andrew was thirteen at the time and up until then I had never heard any terms of endearment or had any hugs from him.

We were in the attraction vehicle and Andrew’s aim at the targets was incredible, he was pointing and shooting at all the dishes on one screen, breaking them one after the other and becoming increasingly engaged by the minute. His excitement and enthusiasm kept my attention as I had not seen anything like this ever! My mind was reeling because of this joint attention, his hand eye coordination and best of all, his more than appropriate responses to his achievements.

Andrew that day scored 89,000 points, a personal best! I couldn’t wait to get out and tell my husband about all of this.

What a huge stride Andrew took that day, it was massive and I was so excited.

Upon exiting the attraction, Andrew turned to me and said, “Mummy, give me a kiss!”

I was floored! Not only did I give him a kiss, but I got a great big hug out of him for the first time in his thirteen years. For the very first time!

Imagine my delight. It’s a moment I will never ever forget and will hold close to my heart always.

Andrew came back to us if even for a few minutes.

I am so grateful for that special, special moment.

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

Thank you for sharing, Jackie!

This blog series is brought to you by Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide on Kickstarter.

Twitter Post

Please support the publication of this book!

Thanks,

Kathy

Posted in: Blog

Leave a Comment (0) →

Autism Awareness Month Continues with Guest Tricia Ballad – 067

autism-awareness

We continue our month-long celebration of Autism Awareness with today’s feature. I’m chatting with Tricia Ballad, a published fiction author, Disney fan and Autism Mom. We’re talking about her family’s recent trip to Walt Disney World and she introduces me to a workshop she’s created for parents of children recently diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder and other Autism-related diagnoses.

The Autism Parents’ Starter Kit includes a series of video discussions on parenting a child with autism, printable resources, and an interactive discussion area where parents can ask questions and connect with other parents. It will be available April 15 on Udemy.com.

Tricia has generously offered a 50% discount to the Autism Parents’ Starter Kit for Special Mouse listeners! You can access it HERE.

Mousekeeping:

The Special Mouse Community will be having its first Disney Parks meet-up next month at Walt Disney World! We’re meeting at the Contemporary Resort’s Contempo Café on Friday, May 22 from 4 to 6 PM. Yes, this is the same day as the Disney Side 24-hour event at the Magic Kingdom! So, if you’ll be up before dawn to attend that event and you find yourself starting to drag just a little in the late afternoon, head on over to the Contemporary and hang out with us in the air-conditioning for a while. I would love to meet you in real life!

Second,

Thanks to all of you who have supported the Kickstarter crowdfunding project I’m running, with either a pledge or a share on social media or in many cases, both. This project is to help publish my upcoming book, Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide! A book which, by the way, I am really surprised hasn’t been written by anyone yet, considering that there are soooo many families with kids on the Autism Spectrum that love WDW or are anxious about visiting WDW — or both!

Twitter Post

You know, I never really talk about it here on the show, but it does cost a bit of money to produce and deliver a podcast like this one – which I love doing and will always provide to listeners free of charge – but, it doesn’t leave me with a lot of extra money lying around to pay for the expenses involved in self-publishing a book!  There’s stuff like professional editing, and the cover art (which, by the way, was created by the very talented Mr. Danny Lawless from the Magic Our Way podcast – shout out to Danny!) and the book will need to be formatted for print and indexed, etc. So, it actually costs several thousand dollars to do this thing!

The wonderful thing about pledging to help with Kickstarter is that instead of just sending me, Kathy Kelly, a check for 10 or 20 or 50 dollars, you will earn some pretty cool rewards for backing the book!

There’s everything from Safety ID Stickers for Kids, created by an autism mom, to sensory-friendly kids costumes from Mom Approved Costumes, to exclusive sneak-peek chapters of the book that I’ll send to your inbox, to personal autism theme park coaching with me via Skype… there are just too many goodies to mention here.

And, of course, you can pre-order a copy of the book itself, which is the main “reward.”

So please, I urge you to visit Kickstarter.com and make a pledge to Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide today. The campaign will end May 7th and here’s the big thing – for those of you who aren’t familiar with Kickstarter.

If I do not raise the full amount that I’m seeking, the campaign fails and I get nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No one’s credit card gets charged and, frankly, it’s going to take a whole lot longer for me to get the book published and into your hands. If the Kickstarter is a success, you should be able to get it by November/December of this year.

I’ve also created a Facebook page for the book called, naturally, Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide.

Which, by the way, a lot of people have told me that it’s been much easier for them to log into Kickstarter.com for the first time using their Facebook account, especially if they are using a mobile device – so there’s a tip for you.

Thank you so, so very much!

Tip of the Week:

If you’re staying at a Disney Resort Hotel you can order waterproof mattress covers for your hotel bed. When you travel with someone, adult or child, who has issues with urinary incontinence or nighttime bed-wetting, it can be a great source of stress.

For many years my son with autism wet his bed at lease 3-4 times per week and even if he was wearing pull-ups they would often leak. I was always worried about this happening when we were staying at a hotel.

Instead of trying to pack a waterproof bed pad in your luggage, you can order one ahead of time. Definitely mention this to your Disney Travel Agent or, if you’re making your own travel arrangements, contact Walt Disney Resort Special Reservations at 407-939-7807, or  Disneyland Resort Special Reservations at 714-520-5045.

Thanks for listening,

Kathy

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →

Diabetic Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World, New DCL Service Dog Gangway Pass and more! 066

Service Animal Gangway Pass

Guest: Robyn Adams. We discuss DAS Rumors, Diabetic Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World, the new DCL Service Dog Gangway Pass and more. It’s a Round Robin with Robyn!

We’re calling out a blog-disguised-as-a-news site that is posting rumors about changes coming to the DAS Card at Walt Disney World that are emotionally manipulative.

We discuss the upcoming Special Mouse Listener Meet  Friday, May 22, at the Contempo Cafe inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort. (4 PM to 6 PM)

This coincides with Robyn’s Diabetic Mouseketeers Weekend, an opportunity “for Diabetic families to go to Walt Disney World and make their own memories while getting a chance to meet other Diabetic families.

Another item we talk about is something shared by listener, Mark Sumonka. Mark has cruised multiple times with the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) and today he posted a picture of something new for guests with service animals: a “Gangway Pass.” (We believe this is an internal method of notifying Cast Members on the ship that guests have already notified Disney that they would be traveling with the service animal when booking the cruise.)

For more information about Diabetic Mouseketeers’ and Walt Disney World, contact Robyn Adams at
Robyn@travelwiththemagic.com
www.travelwiththemagic.com

Tip of the Week:

As part of Autism Awareness Month, I’d like to spotlight Beth Blancher at Mouse-Aid. Beth has created social stories for people with Autism and related challenges to use at Walt Disney World. Social stories are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why. Social Stories can help a person with autism to understand how others might behave or respond in a particular situation, and therefore how they might be expected to behave.

Check them out at  mouse-aid.org. 

* * * * * * * * *

Please visit my page on Kickstarter to learn more about the book I am writing,

Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide

Thank you!

~ Kathy

 

 

 

Posted in: Podcast

Leave a Comment (0) →