Mother and son on Carousel
  • On Dec 26, 2020
    Carol from NE Asked

    My 40+ year old son has developmental disabilities and autism. Wearing a mask is almost impossible. Are there any exemptions?

    Hi, Carol!  Thank you for bringing your question to planDisney!

    Like you, I am also the parent of a son who has special needs, so I can certainly understand the concerns you have about your upcoming vacation.  My teenage son has autism, and one of the reasons why we return to Walt Disney World Resort yEAR after yEAR is that they truly go above and beyond to make the magic accessible to everyone.  Many accommodations can be made for Guests with cognitive disabilities, including Disability Access Service (DAS).  However, accommodations that would affect the health and safety of other Guests and Cast Members cannot be made.

    Currently, all Guests ages 2 and up are required to wear face coverings when on Walt Disney World Resort property.  You may only remove your face covering when inside your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel room, in a designated Relaxation Station, or while swimming or dining.  To remove your face covering for dining, you must be actively eating or drinking while stationary and maintaining appropriate physical distance from other Guests.  Walt Disney World Resort understands that wearing a face mask can be difficult for individuals with disabilities.  However, since it is an issue of public health and safety, exceptions, unfortunately, cannot be made.

    When face coverings first began to be required in public places, I knew this might pose a challenge for my son who is on the autism spectrum.  I talked to him and explained why wearing a mask is necessary right now.  I let him choose some face masks that he likes.  You can find a great selection of cloth face coverings on shopDisney that are both cute and super comfy.  We then started practicing wearing our face coverings by first trying them on at home, then wearing them out in public for increasingly longer and longer periods.  Wearing a face mask in public has now become part of my son's routine, and he wears one all day at school without any problems.  You can check out this Disney Parks Blog post for some additional planDisney face covering tips.

    While my son is doing well with wearing his face masks, I do understand that every person on the autism spectrum is very different.  Wearing a face covering may continue to pose a challenge for your son.  If you need to reschedule your Walt Disney World Resort visit for a later date, you may certainly do so.  I know I am dreaming of a great, big, beautiful tomorrow when face coverings are no longer needed.  Although I cannot say when that will be, I do know that the magic of Walt Disney World Resort will still be waiting for you.

    Wishing you and your son all the best!
    Samantha
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Meet the Panelist: Samantha, Pennsylvania

Hello! I'm Samantha, a wife and mom of two from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  There is nothing I love more than making magical vacation memories with my family, and Walt Disney World Resort is our home away from home.  For years, I have helped my friends and family plan their Walt Disney World Resort vacations, and now I have the opportunity to help even more people as a planDisney panelist.  I cannot wait to help you plan the vacation of your dreams! Learn More About Samantha

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