Autism Watch: 2007

Autism, Cotton Candy, and Our Kudos to Disneyland

Posted on: December 6, 2007

A bit of a different blog entry today — I wanted to take a minute to high-five Disneyland, especially since Knott’s Berry Farm and Magic Mountain have decided that autistic people don’t rate enough for special accommodations that actually, well, accommodate their needs. 

Ds has wanted to spend his birthday at Disneyland all year. We did it last year, so that started a tradition. We are annual passholders, so we go every few weeks but there’s something special about going for a birthday celebration. Disneyland manages to make it fun for the whole family, and today was no different. When we arrived at California Adventure, we easily renewed our guest assistance pass (thank you, Disney, for keeping that process painless and quick) and ds became the proud owner of a pin that announces it was his birthday. Huge smile on his face. To him, that button alone was a special pass. Then the guest services representative handed him the phone, where Goofy wished him a happy birthday. Even huger smile. (Huger=my new word for the day.) Then it was on to Tower of Terror, the first of many rides.

Fast forward hours later to our visit to Woody’s Reindeer Round-up by Thunder Mountain Railroad. Decorating, then eating, the huge sugar cookies is something the kids look forward to every holiday. There, and everywhere we went, Disney staff was telling ds “happy birthday!” Stuff like this, something that seems little, really does make a big difference.

Every ride we went on had a line of sorts, so the ability to avoid those lines makes the day possible. Without it, we couldn’t go to Disneyland. (And because Knott’s and Magic Mountain don’t have this, Disney’s got a very loyal fan base of families with autistic children.) We do want to teach line-waiting skills, but there’s a time and place for that, and a crowded amusement park is not the place. Children with autism deserve the opportunity to have fun, like every other child.

So where does the cotton candy come into play? Ds loves the stuff. Has to have it every trip. You know autistic children and routines, repetition, sameness, etc. Sometimes it can be hard to find when you need to, but today was the worst time we’ve had yet. We’d forgotten that with the 8pm closing, 7:45pm fireworks show, and several other earlier shows, half the park would be inaccessible, with booths/carts shutting down or moved out of their normal place. We asked a lot of Disney staff, only to get conflicting suggestions on where to find it. I finally stopped a woman who was carrying it — she didn’t want to even talk to me and tried to get away, but I was a mom on a mission, and I didn’t think I was asking much of her to point me in the direction of the cotton candy cart. Mission accomplished, though dh had to run and just made it in time before the cart rolled away. Extra exercise to burn off the Hefeweizer from lunch, right?

Next visit, the cotton candy’s being bought first time we see it, and stuffed in the stroller storage until it is time.

Onto other things — we’re gearing up to go casein-free in January, and maybe even gluten free, too. I’d love to go fully GFCF, yet we’re not sure. Before someone flames us for at least not trying it, fyi, we did. Almost three years, GFCF for several months, with only a minimal improvement, and even then, it was temporary. While I fully believe in GFCF and biomedical treatment, I also believe that as a community we need to be understanding of each other, which means not being dismissive to those who don’t believe the same things. I’ve asked a lot of questions on a lot of lists over the years, usually with wonderful results and great support I get nowhere else, but there’s been a few who refuse to answer because we’re not 100% GFCF, or because we’re not chelating. I hate to see more stress added to the load of parents of autistic children because one side thinks they are more ‘right’ than the other side. Why have sides? Why not just one big group of people with diverse opinions and respect for everyone?

Anyway, back to my point — kudos to Disneyland. We will continue to be annual passholders as long as Disney continues to be truly accommodating to guests with autism. We will speak with our words in praising emails and blog entries, and with our money by purchasing Disney gear. We’ll continue to tell everyone what a positive experience our visits are, and how happy our little one is at each visit. We can’t say that about everywhere we go, and let’s face it, ds doesn’t want to go everywhere. In fact, he wants to go few places…and Disneyland is one of them.

And last but not least, pray or think happy thoughts for us. Ds’s birthday party is this weekend, and rain is forecasted for later that afternoon. If we can get at least enough rain-free weather to have the bouncer for some of the party, we will be satisfied. Ds is counting on the bouncer. And at this point, still not even one R.S.V.P. out of all 21 kids in his classroom. I will be talking to his teacher tomorrow to find out if it’s true that kids are saying they’re not coming, or if it’s just a case of parents not realizing the R.S.V.P.’s still are helpful. I would much rather it be the latter, because my little sweetheart deserves a party, and compassionate friends to at least visit. (But compassion is lacking in the world anymore, and less and less is it being taught to kids.) I can deal with no R.S.V.P.’s — I can’t deal with no guests. I’ll update later.

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10 Responses to "Autism, Cotton Candy, and Our Kudos to Disneyland"

Fellow Disney Freak, here! We love Disney World. We live far away, but go about once a year. We’ve never been to Disney Land. Good to know they do so well for kids with Autism.

I’m clueless on most things pertaining to autism, but I know a little about casein. The company I work for buys a lot of creamer (ie, coffee creamer…we make hot cocoa and cappuccino mixes). Casein is causing the price of creamer to skyrocket lately since it’s sorta hard to come by.

Good luck with your party!

thanks for stopping by my little spot. Really good to know about Disney Land. I’ve always wanted to take J but was really scared of the line waiting process. If we decide to go inthe near future I may need to email you for advice. 🙂

Read the other posts, glad to hear the b-day went well. (and yes, sadly, kids can be so mean)

I did a search on Google for autism and Disneyland and found your blog. It’s nice to see you giving Disneyland so much praise in being accomodating to children with autism. We are planning a trip there next month and will be traveling with our 3 year old son who has autism. I wrote to them a few months back and found out about their Guest Assistance card. Did they require a doctor’s note from you in order to get one? I’ve seen some conflicting information on some other sites.

Hi — no, no doctor’s note required. I had one just in case, the first time, but they never asked for it. I had to explain why my son needed special assistance, but they didn’t ask outright what the disability was. I explained he was a safety/flight risk, that he could yell and throw things, be aggressive and injure himself, and that was all it took. Once you get the pass, hold onto it after your trip. We simply have to ask for a renewal each visit since, no problem at all. Enjoy your trip! If you are GFCF, there are restaurants available, and flash the pass in character lines/shows if necessary. Disney is wonderful!

Hello,
I found your blog/site by googling disneyland and autism. Thank you for your words. We are planning on taking our autistic ds (he’ll be 5 when we go) to Disneyland in July/August and I want to be as aware of how things may go for us as possible. We have never been to Disney before but have heard differing stories about it and it was helpful to read your blog. If you have any other tips that may be helpful to me, I would be very appreciative! We know now that we have to have our letter from the dr with us and all that stuff, but to hear it from another parent is so helpful.

Stacy

We went to Disney World last October, and we were surprised and delighted to find out that there was a special area set aside for people with the GAC card in order to view the fireworks!

We didn’t find out about this until the end of the trip, so it’s uncertain if there are also accommodations made for parade viewing. We will find out in a few weeks, however, when we go to Disneyland!

I too did a google search about Autism and Disneyland and found your blog. I hope your party went well. Thanks for all the information. We are taking the family to Disneyland in July and my 7 yr old son is autistic. I know we are going to have a great time!

Laurie

We are the Embassy Suites Anaheim North and we are located just 6 miles east of the Disneyland Resort. We are a proud supporter of Autismspeaks.org and our local Pyramid Autism Center for Children. We are a perfect hotel for families with every room featuring a two room suite. Please go to our website http://www.esanaheim.com. We also have a brand new Autism package in our hotel specials page. 10% will be donated back to AutismSpeaks.org and each suite booked under this package will receive a Special Build A Bear to take home as our gift.

I also found your blog by googling autism and Disneyland. I appreciated all you had to say about Disney because we are planning on going next year with our 4 children, the youngest who is autistic and heard that Disney offered a special pass for lines for people with special needs.

What I am even more grateful was reading about people judging you for not being 100%GFCF and not doing chelation. I am still fuming over a woman telling me I was wrong for not being 100% GFCF and that he would be so much better and that I needed to get rid of yeast and start chelation and new vitamins and probiotics and fight for 40 hours of skills training a week. I have a larger family. The 10 hrs he receives now is plenty for our schedule, he is doing well and we all work with him besides. He needs time for playdates and other activities and it is nearly impossible to remove all gluten for our home. He has had as little as we can do for a few months and I see little bits of improvement but we are also doing a lot of other things for him. We just need to always be searching and have an open mind and not judge fellow parents and families for following what they feel is best. I can’t speak for all children, but I know that my son’s autism was not caused by his vaccines. He was born a little different and we are working with these differences to help him live up to his potential. He is such a blessing in my life.

We don’t always know when we do something, what cause it has down the road. You wrote this post months ago and it really touched me today. Thankyou.

what are cotton candy’s nutritional facts?????

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