Family with disabled dad speaking with cast member
  • On Mar 23, 2023
    Hannah from KY Asked Please note that experiences, policies, pricing and other offerings are subject to change and may have changed since the date of this answer.

    Brenda,\ I saw you are a physical therapist, so I wondered if you had any additional advice besides DAS and EVCs. I am visiting with my spouse with a TBI and our autistic child. just the grocery store is an adventure for us, so any suggestions appreciated.

    Hi Hannah,

    Thank you for writing to me here at planDisney with your question, I am excited to help you plan your upcoming vacation!

    I'm glad you are considering renting an ECV for your trip, this one thing can make so much of a difference in reducing fatigue if your spouse has mobility issues.  I am not sure how old your child is or what their mobility is like, but if your child doesn't normally need a stroller for normal everyday activities, they might benefit from one during your vacation to avoid fatigue and to assist with minimizing overstimulation.  Here is a link for Stroller Rentals and at the bottom you can select the link for the Disney featured provider to see the weight limitations for the strollers.  Currently the Disney featured provider has an adaptive style stroller that has a 200-pound weight limit which fits older/larger children.  If you decide to use one as a medical device to help your child have their own safe sanctuary to avoid overstimulation, you may even be able to visit Guest Services and have it tagged as a stroller for use as a wheelchair.  This will mean that you will be allowed to bring it anywhere a wheelchair may go but regular strollers are restricted.

    One of my biggest recommendations when visiting with special needs, especially when wanting to avoid overstimulation, is to arrive well before park opening so you can enjoy the parks when the temperature is cooler, and the parks are less crowded.  I recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before the theme park opens.  This will give you a chance to get situated and acclimated before entering.  My next recommendation for you is to make sure everyone in your family is well hydrated and that you bring insulated water bottles with you.  The brain doesn't function well when it is not hydrated, and this can be a key in preventing an overstimulation trigger.  Do not wait until anyone has thirst, you should be drinking as often as possible throughout the day.

    Below are additional tips that I have learned over the years:
    • Bring alcohol prep pad packets to sniff at the first sign of nausea for brain injury recoverees.
    • Take your meals early, about an hour before the usual mealtime to avoid crowds/waits.
    • Bring earplugs and noise canceling headphones.
    • Ask for seating near exits in restaurants and shows in case you need to leave suddenly.
    • Pick top 2 or 3 priorities each day and avoid overscheduling.
    • Rest frequently and watch for early signs of triggering.
    • Watch point of view videos of attractions beforehand so everyone knows what to expect.
    • Use companion restrooms.
    • Bring sticky notes to place over automatically flushing toilets.
    • Bring sunglasses and hats and seek shaded areas often.
    • Tell Cast Members about your special needs before character interactions or when checking into a Character Meal
    • Leave the parks in the afternoon and schedule rest time every day.
    Finally, Hannah I want to remind you that as a caregiver for two people, you still need to care for yourself.  Making sure you are getting enough sleep and rest is just as important as making sure your other family members are doing so.  Stop often and enjoy the Magical environment you are in!  This is the time to be nice to yourself and enjoy a Dole Whip - or two!

    I wish you the most Magical vacation!  If you have any other questions, please come back and ask us here at planDisney!

    See Ya Real Soon,
thumbnail image for Brenda

Meet the Panelist: Brenda, Missouri

I fell in love with Walt Disney World on my very first visit, which took place during my honeymoon. Since then we have added 4 "mouseketeers" to our family and have come to appreciate what a great value a Walt Disney World vacation can be on a budget. As a Physical Therapist and a mom of a large family, I would love to help you plan your next magical trip! Learn More About Brenda

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