Wishes And Pixie Dust

Follow the journey of a Wisconsin family of 4 who relocated to the Walt Disney World area in July 2011


Autism in the Parks

Picture the Magic Kingdom on a high crowd level day:  long stand-by lines for attractions, people pushing through areas trying to make ADRs, or FastPass times or just simply to reach that next attraction.  For most people, this proves to be a minor annoyance but to them the magic of Walt Disney World is worth the inconveniences. However, to a child with autism, this can prove to be a sensory nightmare, and a such you will not find us in the parks on a high-level crowd day.    As our Ben will tell you: “I don’t do so well in crowds”.

Children with autism typically tend to have noise sensitivities.  That child ahead of you in the queue line with headphones on?  Without the noise blocking mechanisms of those headphones, the noise would literally prove to be too painful for the child to tolerate it.   Ben uses ear plugs for such attractions as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Haunted Mansion (in the stretching room where people tend to scream) and Dream Along with Mickey in the Magic Kingdom; Rock n Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Great Movie Ride, Indiana Jones, Mulch, Sweat & Shears, Backlot Tour,  and Muppets in the Studios;  Test Track, Mission Space, Soarin’, and Candlelight Processional in Epcot;  and  Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Festival of the Lion King, and Finding Nemo the Musical in the Animal Kingdom.    Ben considers the Studios to be one of the noisiest parks.

Enjoy waiting in line?  Well, nobody really does, but for children with autism, this is extremely hard.  We have been so thankful for the Guest Assistance Card to help Ben with these lines.  The current DAS card which replaced it has been helpful, but it does have more limitations than what we’ve experienced previously.  See our earlier post here on the DAS card.

We have been blessed to have been able to move close to Walt Disney World, as Ben has loved Mickey Mouse ever since he was a preschooler.  Mickey is such a calming force in his life.  We accept, however, that there are certain times that we are not able to go into the Parks, such as the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve fireworks.  He loves fireworks, but not the crowds.  We are not always able to attend meets, as it depends largely on how Ben is that day.  A high autism day means very little patience for waiting around, and what really is there to do with a crowd of people for a length of time?    We have found the iPhone and its numerous apps to be a valuable tool in waiting in lines, but there are times that it can only provide so much entertainment before he gets bored with it.

We are thankful to our friends who understand and love Ben for who he is.  He is an amazing child, and we wouldn’t have him any other way.