Autistic Children in the Parks
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Michigan
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    505

    Autistic Children in the Parks

    I am not sure how other people have faired, but we have a ds who will be 4 in almost 3 weeks, has been to wdw 6 times and has autism spectrum disorder. our first two trips were a little rough, but after a little advice from a local mom in a similar situation I found out about the GAC. If you have a child like mine that is on the spectrum with sensory integration disorder, I highly recomend looking into it. WDW has become a part of our son's therapy. I don't think we would be able to do it or enjoy it if not for the GAC... I believe it to hold a little magic of it's own.
    The only thing that I ask and suggest is that you have your notes from your doctors on hand, just in case a CM asks when issuing the card, they are tightening the policy ( thank goodness) because people do take advantage.
    Dreams Come True...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    754

    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    My grandson hasasperger's which is on the spectrum. We also used the GAC. I highly recommend it for all those who have "special" children. WDW made out trip so enjoyable.
    Mandy

  3. #3

    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    We had no problem getting the GAC. The cast member didn't want any proof. I was a little surprised but pleased. We got one for the entire trip so we saved a lot of time!

    My son (3 at the time) only was able to handle a couple of rides and that was it for him. We plan to bring him back next year - Oct. 2010. He has improved so much so we're hoping he'll enjoy it more. He absolutely loves Mickey so I'd love for him to meet him.
    32 visits to WDW. Visits since 2008:
    Jan 2008 - Wilderness Lodge, Sept 2008 - All-Star Music, Jan 2009 - Contemporary Resort & All-Star Sports, Jan 2011 - Polynesian Resort, Sept 2011 - Old Key West, Jan 2013 & Oct 2014 - Bay Lake Tower & Art of Animation, Jan 2015 - Bay Lake Tower, Port Orleans FQ, Villas at the Grand Floridian & Disney's Vero Beach, Jan 2016 - Animal Kingdom Villas, Port Orleans Riverside & Disney's Hilton Head Island

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Mickey's backyard (Orlando, FL)
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    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    The CMs at GR are not allowed to ask for notes
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    505

    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    Quote Originally Posted by joanna71985 View Post
    The CMs at GR are not allowed to ask for notes
    I am surprised to hear that because one of our parents called disney and was told to always have a medical letter stating the child's issue in order to obtain a GAC. They were told that people were trying to get away with skipping lines and avoind fastpasses. But thank you for the info.

    I always carry the diagnosis with me anyway. We had a very bad experience 12/08 after a MVMCP with a CM on a bus.

    Quote Originally Posted by cpudd View Post
    We had no problem getting the GAC. The cast member didn't want any proof. I was a little surprised but pleased. We got one for the entire trip so we saved a lot of time!

    My son (3 at the time) only was able to handle a couple of rides and that was it for him. We plan to bring him back next year - Oct. 2010. He has improved so much so we're hoping he'll enjoy it more. He absolutely loves Mickey so I'd love for him to meet him.
    I am so pleased to hear that you will return with your son. I know how much it has helped mine. It will get easier as time passes, I promise. My son goes on almost all of the rides now and does extremely well. We actually go two to three times a year and it has become a part of his therapy. His OT said it would make or break him after his first trip and it made him. I wish you the best and look forward to hearing about your next trip.
    Last edited by Doodlemommy3; 08-17-2009 at 12:45 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    Dreams Come True...

  6. #6

    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    how does the GAC help? my brother is on the spectrum, and we've always just had normal passes. What does the GAC do that helps the kids out? thanks!
    2002- Wilderness Lodge
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  7. #7

    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    The GAC allows you not to wait in line but go through to the front of the line, through the 'Fast Pass' line or the Disabled Entrance. It includes the entire group who is accompanying the child with Autism.
    Last edited by cpudd; 02-02-2010 at 09:43 AM.
    32 visits to WDW. Visits since 2008:
    Jan 2008 - Wilderness Lodge, Sept 2008 - All-Star Music, Jan 2009 - Contemporary Resort & All-Star Sports, Jan 2011 - Polynesian Resort, Sept 2011 - Old Key West, Jan 2013 & Oct 2014 - Bay Lake Tower & Art of Animation, Jan 2015 - Bay Lake Tower, Port Orleans FQ, Villas at the Grand Floridian & Disney's Vero Beach, Jan 2016 - Animal Kingdom Villas, Port Orleans Riverside & Disney's Hilton Head Island

  8. #8

    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    oh wow! okay thank you!
    2002- Wilderness Lodge
    2003- Wilderness Lodge (MNSSHP)
    2007- Wilderness Lodge Villas
    2009- Port Orleans French Quarter
    2011- Polynesian
    2011- Bay Lake Tower/AKL (Kidani)
    2012- Saratoga Springs

    "This is my dream!" - Mickey, Fantasmic

  9. #9
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    Mar 2006
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    Mickey's backyard (Orlando, FL)
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    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    Quote Originally Posted by cpudd View Post
    The GAC allows you not to wait in line but go through to the front of the line, through the 'Fast Pass' line or the Disabled Entrance. It includes the entire group who is accompanying the child with Autism.
    Actually, it depends on the stamps on the GAC. Not all stamps do that.

    And there is a limit. Usually it's a total of 6 people.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Michigan
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    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    Quote Originally Posted by joanna71985 View Post
    Actually, it depends on the stamps on the GAC. Not all stamps do that.

    And there is a limit. Usually it's a total of 6 people.
    You are 100% correct and I think that there are people who do not understand what the GAC is really for. When we went to WDW our first 2 times with our on it was tough because he could not handle the mass crowds of people on top of him. He would have to stay in his stroller a lot too because it was his "safe" place. The GAC allowed us to keep him in the stroller until we reached the actual ride and that made it enjoyable for him. We also use alternate entrances so that there are less people on top of him. In some instances with some rides, he stayed in his stroller as it was used as a wheelchair and he really enjoyed the experience. It has also been a huge help with the shows and our son really thrives with each trip we take. I am very thankful to have this.

    If you have a sensory child and or a child with spacial issues the GAC is a huge help. I just don't think that if a child really doesn't have issues that people should use a GAC, I always suggest fastpass as that is what we get first and foremost.
    Dreams Come True...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Midwest, USA
    Posts
    96

    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    I am super happy to have found this threat. We'll be going to .WDW in August. I have a 13 year old son with Asperger's. It'll be his first trip to FL, as a whole. He really is incredibly high functioning, but his sensory issues can make him crumble in a heartbeat.

    I've had a couple people recommend looking into the GAC for him. I don't want it for "line jumping" but in instances where the lines are super crowded (ie: Pirates, etc) it would be nice to be able to wait in an alternate area where he's not going to be bumped or anything.

    I'm definitely going to look into this, and I'll plan to have documentation from his team of doctors, in hand, just in case.
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  12. #12
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    Sep 2009
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    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    1st of all it is against the law for WDW to ask for documentation of a disability. All you need to do is go to Guest relations at your resort or at any of the parks and ask for a GAC because you have a guest with Autism. They will then ask you how many people are in your party and how long you are staying.

    I have a brother with Autism and have taken over ten trips to a Disney Park. We have never had any problems getting a GAC and we didn't use the GAC the first 2 trip (we were not informed of such a pass). The GAC will allow you to wait in the the Fast Pass Line or go into the ride through an alternate entrance. The GAC will say that one of the members in your party has Autism and the CM might ask who it is so he or she can make sure to help prepare that member for getting onto the ride or what the ride entails (ex: "You are going to have to step on the moving floor and that will take you to your car." or" This ride has things that pop out, but they are not real and your mom or dad will be with you if you get scared."). The CM are great at helping your child have a very enjoyable experience.

    I am also a Special Education Teacher in TX and have helped some of my students and their families with planning WDW vacations and what accommodations are needed to help their child enjoy the trip. Another thing that has been helpful (to my students not my brother) are having special social stories for the parks and the resort. You can also have social stories for getting to WDW (getting on the plan, or in the car). It is also goo to have social stories about what would happen if he gets lost or if it rains. On our 1st trip to WDW, my brother got lost. I would just create as many social stories for events that could happen (a big one is what would happen if the ride you want to go on is broken).

    Another thing that is helpful is to take breaks. Find a bench and sit down for a while, go back to your resort and let him watch TV. Breaks will help he clam down and destress from all the people.

    I hope this tips help!!

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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    What about children with ADHD, who also are bi-polar and ODD with alot of different symptoms do they do anything to help out with that as sometimes long lines can cause our DS to have a total meltdown and then you are just done for aleast 5 hours until he can calm down and that usually requires back to the room to give him space and less stimulation!

  14. #14

    Re: Autistic Children in the Parks

    We had a family reunion and one of my nieces has autism, it helped her tremondoulsly to not have to wait in long lines, we used the fast pass line or sometimes we were detoured to a disabled entrance (where the people with wheelchairs go) We were surprised they included our entire group, 18 people! On a previous occasion it is usually 6 people on the pass. All cast members were very kind and never asked questions.
    I have also heard of getting special parade viewing but we never did that.

  15. #15
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    May 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Disneymommyx2
    What about children with ADHD, who also are bi-polar and ODD with alot of different symptoms do they do anything to help out with that as sometimes long lines can cause our DS to have a total meltdown and then you are just done for aleast 5 hours until he can calm down and that usually requires back to the room to give him space and less stimulation!
    Any type if disability (obvious to casual observers or not) that impacts a guest's ability to function in crowds or long lines are eligible for assistance.

    Also, we've found that the baby care center near Casey's is a great spot to decompress and get away from it all without leaving the Magic Kingdom.
    Claudine
    "All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them." Walt Disney

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