Mom And Son On Run
  • On Apr 24, 2009
    Rachel from PA Asked Note: This answer was provided prior to the change to planDisney and may still contain references to Disney Parks Moms Panel.

    I am a single mom of one fantastic 12 yr old son who just happens to be on the Autism spectrum. What advice do you have for making this trip a little easier on him?

    Hi Rachel!

    Many families who travel with kids on the spectrum strongly believe that Disney is one of the most "user friendly" places for their children.  Here are some of my thoughts on how to make your trip extra special (and a bit more smooth!)

    First, stop at Guest Relations at the first park you visit, explain that your son has Autism and request a Guest Assistance Card (GAC).  This discrete (it's about the size of an index card) card will enable you to access rides and attractions via an alternate route.  While the card will not eliminate your wait entirely, it will greatly reduce waiting times for attractions to a few minutes. In many cases, you'll walk through the fast pass line.  On some others, you'll go in through an exit. 

    I'm not sure when you guys are planning to travel, but you might find it easier to go off season when crowds and temperatures are more moderate.  If this isn't possible, and you go during the summer months, I'd recommend visiting the parks early in the day and the evening, and "wedging" a nice visit to your resort mid-day for a swim, rest, lunch, etc. 

    If your son has any dietary restrictions/concerns, be sure to mention this to the reservations agent when you make dining reservations.  S/he will note your concerns on your reservation, and when you arrive, the chef will come out and speak to you in an effort to accommodate your needs.

    If loud sounds are a problem, you might want to check out Wishes (the fireworks) at the Magic Kingdom from a less intense spot, like one of the beaches at the monorail resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian,Grand Floridian)

    These are just a few of my thoughts.  The independent website has many wonderful accounts, tips and stories from spectrum families who've successfully traveled to "the World".  Just type "autism" from the home page.

    I hope you both have a truly magical trip!

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Meet the Panelist: Tanya, New Jersey

I am Tanya from FL, full-time mom to two fun-loving boys. I have an array of planning tips and believe I offer a unique perspective on how to make Disney an amazing adventure for individuals with a variety of needs and abilities. Learn More About Tanya

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