Trip Report (Completed!) This is Autism - When you add a little Pixie Dust!

Figment Forever

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Hi Everyone!

This will be my first trip report so I am a little nervous. Our family is heading to Disney World in 6 days! It will be myself, my husband and our 2 daughters: Julia who is 11 and Hope who is 4. Hope has severe Autism and SID (Sensory Integration Disorder). Some people think I'm crazy to take Hope to Disney with all of her issues, but I have found Disney to be the greatest therapy for her - she does some amazing things while we are there. This will be her 3rd visit after being diagnosed. I hope I can offer some encouragement (and a little humor) to others who have special needs children and are hesitant to visit Disney.

I have done a pre-trip report on my blog - I don't know if I am allowed to post the link here. I will try to catch up here over the next couple of very busy days! So if any of you are up for the journey with us - welcome!

mary
 

deanaandrich

Well-Known Member
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I work in early intervention and always have several children on my caseload with autism. I always recommend Disney to the families. It is true- they do amazing things in the world. Have fun!
 

Longers

Well-Known Member
Good luck for your first trip report. Wow 6 days and you will be immersed in all that magic and pixie dust, how exciting.
I am ready for the journey with you can't wait to hear all about it. 54 days till I go "home"
 

erstwo

Well-Known Member
So exciting! I have friends who take their autistic children to Disney and they always have a fabulous time! One if the many reasons I <3 the Happiest Place on Earth! (Starting to tear up now.... :) )
Can't wait to read!
 

Figment Forever

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
A little pre-trip info:

Our Disney journey will take place from September 18th to the 27th. This year we are staying at Port Orleans French Quarters and have the free dining package. We are booked to eat at:

The Garden Grill
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Donald’s Safari Breakfast
Yak & Yeti
Chef Mickey’s
Play & Dine
The Crystal Palace
‘Ohana
Biergarten
Be Our Guest

Now if you did your math correctly, you will notice that we are staying 9 nights, but we have 10 sit down dinners booked. No doubt, you are wondering why? Well, Ross, my husband, and Julia decided they don’t want to eat at Be Our Guest! Julia wants to eat at Biergarten instead. How can this be? Are you kidding me? I picked up the phone to call and cancel it at least a dozen times – but the fact is – I want to go here! So we are going to pay out of pocket for one meal. I know I said I would never do that, but I can’t help it. How do you pass up eating in the Beast’s Castle?
 

Lucky

Well-Known Member
We've stayed at POFQ a couple times with the free dining plan, and with a special needs child, so I'm looking forward to your reports. You have a great list of ADRs. We've done all of those except Play & Dine. That's nice you got 'Ohana. It seems to be the toughest ADR to get these days. Beast's Castle is worth seeing even if you have to pay out of pocket. For Y&Y and BOG, you could even split meals if you want, and use 2 credits at one and 2 at the other. Have a great trip!
 

SweetEvangeline

Well-Known Member
We, too, have a child on the spectrum that we have taken to WDW several times. Although she cannot communicate well enough to tell us, we know we are creating memories for her that will last a lifetime (and for us, too!) ;) I hope your trip is magical!
 

kasey1988

Well-Known Member
I hope you and your family have a great trip, we love pofq and will actually be checking in on the 23rd! Seems a lot of us wdwmagic ppl will be in disney during this time!
 

Figment Forever

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I hope you and your family have a great trip, we love pofq and will actually be checking in on the 23rd! Seems a lot of us wdwmagic ppl will be in disney during this time!

Congratulations! I hope you have a magical time! My husband and I celebrated our honeymoon in WDW in 1992 - when POR was Dixie Landings. If you see us, please say hi - my husband will be the one with the beard and the Grumpy tee shirt.
 

Figment Forever

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We've stayed at POFQ a couple times with the free dining plan, and with a special needs child, so I'm looking forward to your reports. You have a great list of ADRs. We've done all of those except Play & Dine. That's nice you got 'Ohana. It seems to be the toughest ADR to get these days. Beast's Castle is worth seeing even if you have to pay out of pocket. For Y&Y and BOG, you could even split meals if you want, and use 2 credits at one and 2 at the other. Have a great trip!

Wow - I didn't know you could spilt credits like that. Thanks for the tip! I am hoping/wishing that Sofia the First might make a surprise visit to Play & Dine.
 

Lucky

Well-Known Member
For buffets or other all you can eat sort of meals everyone is charged a credit automatically but not where you're ordering off a menu.
 

Figment Forever

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Good luck for your first trip report. Wow 6 days and you will be immersed in all that magic and pixie dust, how exciting.
I am ready for the journey with you can't wait to hear all about it. 54 days till I go "home"

Thanks! Enjoy your countdown!
 

Figment Forever

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We, too, have a child on the spectrum that we have taken to WDW several times. Although she cannot communicate well enough to tell us, we know we are creating memories for her that will last a lifetime (and for us, too!) ;) I hope your trip is magical!

Thanks for sharing!
 

Figment Forever

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
With one day to go, I was very proud that I had everything in order. Usually, I have a ton of last minute things to do. And then....

My daughter Julia woke up and said..."I have a sore throat." Ah, the best laid plans...

So our day began at Urgent Care and praying that Hope would not follow her big sister ad get sick. Since Hope does not communicate with us, her being sick is always a guessing game.

Going to Urgent Care brought back a nightmare from last year's trip - but I will save that for a flashback moment.

Thankfully, Julia is feeling better and we have a prescription - just in case. So right now we are all settling in at my sister's house. She is driving us to Newark in the AM. I can't believe our trip is here.

And away we go...
 

Figment Forever

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Okay – so we have sadly begun our return to “normal” life. As I am sure everyone understands it is not easy after such an amazing trip. But I have promised myself to complete our trip report before it begins to fade away from memory with the onslaught of our hectic lives.

So if you are in… here we go…

Our cast of characters:

Mary: Mom aka Me - I am 43 years old and a Disney fanatic. I find Disney to be that escape from reality that we all need at least once a year.

Ross: Dad aka Grumpy. He is the bearded one. 43 years old and loves Disney more than he will admit. He works 24/7so we can do this trip.

Julia: aka “sissy” - DD 11 is also a Disney nut. LOVES Tinkerbell and Monsters Inc. Julia would be happy to spend all day at the Monster’s Laugh Floor with occasional trips to Tink’s Magical Nook.

Hope: DD 4 is Autistic and has major sensory issues. This is the first trip where I believe she “knows” where she is going and is excited. Her favorites are Sofia, Mickey, Oso and Jake.

Disclaimer: We are not a normal family. Normal is overrated – right? Let me give you an example: Do you know those families who head out for an early breakfast, hit the parks before the crowds rush in and then go back to their rooms for a nap, swim and a little “down” time? Okay – that is not us. When we shut our room door behind us in the morning, we do not return until that night after the park closes.

Day 1 – Travel Day

We woke up at 3:30AM, showered and dressed, and headed off for Newark Airport. It was still dark when my sister dropped us at curbside check-in. No one was there – so it was quick and painless. Then off we went to security. I always hold my breath with this part. We travel with apple juice for Hope. She is very particular and will only drink certain things with certain textures. For her, Shop Rite Natural Apple Juice mixed with water is the right combination. Plain water makes her choke and she doesn’t drink soda or other juices. Even though lately she has been more tolerable of other apple juices, I didn’t want to take a chance of her not having any liquids until we got to our hotel. I had her little cooler bag with the doctor’s note sticking out of it and I also informed the person at the belt that there was liquid in it. It was passed down to the end and I followed it.

Even though we only travel once a year, we have the security thing pretty well choreographed. We enter the line with Hope in her stroller. Ross is in charge of the stroller, I am in charge of Hope until she passes through the detector and then Julia has her hand until I get her juice through screening and Ross has her stroller ready to roll and all of our carry-on’s out and together. This is actually the first year she had to walk through the detector by herself. Other years, I was allowed to carry her through. It was going to be a fun morning at Newark for some passengers if she refused, but luckily, she went through with only a slight hesitation. I had Julia go through first and told Hope to walk to Sissy. She seemed leery at first, but I told her very sternly that the way to Mickey was through that “tunnel”. So off she went to Sisssy!

I went through and caught up with our apple juice. The woman asked how old my daughter was and I told her 4. She said that special drinks were only allowed for infants. I referred her to the doctor’s note that was still sticking out of the bag. She read it and her attitude changed. They performed their “testing” and off we went.

With our shoes and sweatshirts back on, we headed for our JetBlue gate and awaited our plane.

On the way, we noticed this sign advertising 4-H Clubs. Since we are a serious 4-H family, I had to pause and take a picture!

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Our plane was on time and actually got off a few minutes early. It was on the flight that I realized I had indeed forgotten something: Hope’s earphones. Ear buds do not work well for Hope. So this was a huge bummer. I can’t believe I forgot about them! I let her play her I-Pad with the volume on and hoped she wouldn’t play it too loud. She was a little antsy on the flight but managed okay. She actually did hold the ear bud up to her ear at one point and Julia allowed her to listen to her music with her. Points to Julia.

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At 8:30 we were on the ground at Orlando and making our way to Magical Express. I love early flights because it was empty! We walked right on to our bus to POFQ – no wait!

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Julia took her seat in front of one of the screens.

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Hope announced, “Here we go!”. And that we did… we made a stop at one other resort – I actually forget which one. Lol But soon we were at French Quarters.

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Our room was ready – score. Then we got a surprise. I had requested a first floor room with a refrigerator. Hope takes a supplement that needs refrigeration so it was a medical request. As we walked to our room, we realized that building 4 was right next to the main building. We were literally 10 steps to the food court and overlooked the garden. We always take the standard room and have never paid for a preferred location. Well, they apparently upgraded us to a garden view! What a treat!

Next up : Off to the Magic Kingdom
 

Lucky

Well-Known Member
Love the report and photos. POFQ is one of my favorite resorts. Looking forward to the next installment.
 

Figment Forever

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Day 1 Continued: September 18th – Magic Kingdom

We left our room and walked maybe 50 steps to the bus stop. (I loved our room!) There we anxiously awaited the bus for Magic Kingdom. We waited…and waited… Okay so we waited around 30 minutes for the bus to come. I have to be honest, aside from this time and maybe 3 or 4 other times, we never waited longer than a few minutes for a bus. So while it’s very easy to complain, I really shouldn’t. Last year, we waited ridiculously long times for the buses at CBR our ENTIRE trip.

Besides, it was a chance to snap a picture.



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We all breathed a great big sigh of relief - the bus ride was good.

I should give a little background as I go as to some of the challenges we face with Hope. Last year, the bus ride was a huge obstacle. In her mind, when a moving vehicle stops, you get off. Another reason I regretted staying at CBR – 4 stops in the resort alone. We would have to strategize to walk to the last stop to board the bus in the morning and were forced to get off at the first stop it made at night to let us get off. Even along the way, a red light or traffic jam that would cause the bus to stop motion would have my little peanut stand up and melt down. It was a struggle to say the least. We practiced throughout the year. Taking different little rides with stop – motion and having her remain in place. I suppose our hard work paid of because right to the park we went with no problems.

Once inside the MK, we had 2 tasks to take care of before we could immerse ourselves in wonder. First, we needed to obtain a Guest Assistance Card for Hope. This is the biggest lifesaver that Disney can offer to families like us and children like Hope. I know of the problems with the program and that they are reworking it – which I totally understand. I have not been on top of what the new version will be like, but I do hope it will be something “user friendly” we can continue to use to make our trip magical.

I ask to use Hope’s stroller as a wheelchair as she can not wait in line without it. Nor can she sit in a theatre seat – sensory issues. Her stroller is her “safe place”. Without this accommodation, she would not see any show at Disney and probably not make it on to many rides. It is also a plus to use the alternative entrance – big crowds freak her out. So to enter without having to be in a huge swarm of people – wow – what a difference.
Once we had our GAC, it was time to cross Main Street to get our Photo Pass+ Card. Then we were ready to roll.


Our family tradition is to hit Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor first. New challenge: Hope hates them. We decided to give it a shot as a family. We were not in the preshow but for a few moments when she covered her ears. Translation: “I don’t like this!” But she added something new. Along with covering her ears, she started to hum loudly. This is not something she has ever done before – not at WDW and not at home. After a few minutes, I left with Hope and headed to Peter Pan while Julia and Ross hung out with Mike and Buddy Boyle.

After Peter Pan, we waited at Small World for Ross and Julia to show up and we took our first of many trips on the happiest cruise that ever sailed.


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Hope – a HUGE fan.

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Julia – not so much – but a good sport.

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Then it was off to a first: Hope’s first ride on Splash Mountain. Would she make the 40 inches? Yes she did! So off we went into the briar patch.
I should mention 2 things. 1) Hope hates water. 2) Hope hates the feeling of going up & down. (She refuses to stand up in an elevator.)


Some of you who are reading are probably saying or thinking that I am the worst mother going. But when your child is special needs, you discover that many times, they do not challenge themselves. So as parents, we have to make them challenge themselves. So the family rule is: if you make the height requirement, you try it once. (And that she did.)

SM is a favorite for Ross & Julia


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Hope & her maiden voyage



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After Splash, we went to Mickey’s Philharmagic & Under the Sea with Ariel. Funny, I showed my GAC card so that they would let us enter the line with the stroller and my fastpasses. But they told me I didn’t need the fastpasses, just the card. I can see how it can be abused so much. We always used to get fastpasses as well as show the card.
But this trip it seemed like a waste of time – they never wanted them.


Our hunger finally got the better of us and we headed off to eat. I was determined to eat at Columbia Harbour House this year. I have been wanting to go there for the past 4 trips and we never made it. So I told everyone we would be going there at least once this trip – no buts. (Do you think we made it? You’ll have to read on.) However, since we were close to Pinocchio Village Haus, we ate there. It is a favorite of Ross. We ordered a pepperoni flatbread, a caprese flatbread and an order of chicken nuggets & fries and split it all between the four of us.

After eating, we went off to Tink’s Magical Nook and hoped to see a new fairy that we haven’t seen before. Silvermist is Julia’s all time favorite and of course she has never met her. But we knew she would not be there. We did have hopes of seeing Terrence and indeed that is who we met!

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My phone was running low on battery and I brought the wrong cord to charge it so no more pictures of today.

Of course, who can walk through Adventureland without treating themselves to a Dole Whip? Not I – so I got a pineapple float with vanilla ice cream. I finally convinced Julia to give one a try too. Thumbs up!

We repeated all of what we had done except the meet & greet. We also walked through New Fantasyland, visited the Country Bears, Buzz Lightyear and Carousel of Progress. Julia & I love COP, Ross likes it because he can take a nap. Hope tolerated it last year, but this year seemed to like to watch the different scenes light up. So it was an enjoyable time for all of us. When it was time for dinner, I said we were going to Columbia Harbour House – no exceptions. When we got there – it was closed for the night. Off to see Sunny Eclipse at Cosmic Rays. We again got 3 meals to share but I can’t remember what we had.

All too soon our first day, which began at 3:30AM, came to a close and we hopped a bus back to FQ for a good night sleep
 
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