02 Apr The Magic of Disney With Autism….
It’s hard to believe that April is already here! Spring is in the air and people are getting outside to enjoy the warmer weather and longer days. With vaccinations increasing and Covid restrictions lessening around the country, lots of people are starting to travel again after such a long time and we are thrilled about that! After a very long year we are ALL ready for a break.
On that note, many of you may know that April is also Autism Awareness month – something close to my heart as a special needs mom. Autism continues to be a prevalent issue in society – with statistics showing that as high as 1in 54 children are being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is a problem that is not going away, and likely affects more people than you know! Most parents in my shoes would agree that they have had more than their share of battles to fight and walls to go up against as part of their everyday life. You would think that we’d all be able to go on vacation and get a much-deserved break, but I know firsthand that this could not be further from the truth.
My daughter is now a teenager, and we have tried multiple destinations for family vacations but it was always a struggle. When she was very young it was easier – but as she got out of the toddler years it became more and more difficult, often resulting in us cutting the vacation short or wishing we hadn’t bothered. We came to realize that as much as we would love to sit on a beach for a day with no plans in site, this simply was not an option for her. The disruption to her daily routine was just something she couldn’t handle, and her anxiety would often get out of control and things would spiral downward from there. This is where Walt Disney World comes into play – we lucked out and found a place where vacation could really happen for us!
I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve been asked why we go so much. The first reason is a no-brainer, we love it! Secondly – we have found that the structure and organized days that come with a Disney vacation help with keeping our daughter on a schedule and a modified routine. For her, knowing what’s scheduled for her day and what to expect is a game changer, resulting in minimal stress and anxiety – and a whole lot of fun!
There are many steps that can be taken to help a family like ours have a successful trip. Incorporating things like social stories and YouTube videos, and having some familiar items from home on hand are just a few of the resources that you can use to help get your kiddo ready to travel. And one of the best things about Walt Disney World is how accommodating they are for guests with disabilities. There are many, many features in place to help along the way – including the Disability Access Pass, companion bathrooms, wheelchair/stroller rentals, and dietary assistance to name a few. The times when I felt like I needed extra help with something was just a matter of asking a cast member, and they have done everything they can to help! Every child is different of course, and knowing their limits is an important part of having a successful trip. Hope for the best but remember that flexibility will be key!
One of my favorite things about being a travel planner with PPV is also being a Certified Autism Travel Professional (CATP). I love helping all families travel, and I especially love being able to help families like mine find the magic in Walt Disney World. It’s all part of helping you travel in the most delightful way!
** Kathleen is our agencies Autism Certified Travel Professional. Contact her with any questions and read more about her story here.
To learn more about planning your next Walt Disney World Resort vacation, visit our website www.practicallyperfectvacations.com