Planning a trip to Disney can be overwhelming for adults; imagine how our kids must feel when they get there. FastPasses, dining reservations, shopping, transportation, hotel accommodations, flight reservations – there is so much to do! So, in anticipation of our upcoming trip, I knew I had to get our boys prepared. This is a little different for them compared to visiting a few kiddie rides down on the Jersey shore. I knew I had to really find ways to prepare Michael. It seemed like it would be a difficult task but, once again, our BCBA and therapist had great suggestions to help him.
On my first trip to Disney, I was 14 years old. I remember thinking that it was just a big park with a bunch of rides I would not go on. I was so wrong. I walked away with a new love of everything magical. I want that feeling for my boys too. I have been talking to Alex about it since we started planning the trip. If I catch him on a good day, he will simply say, “Mom stop spoiling it for me.” (hehe) I love that because even though I feel like he is ignoring me when I talk Disney, deep down, he is curious about it.
For Michael it’s not as easy. I talk to him too, but I’m never sure if he is listening or understanding what I’m talking about. However, one of Michael’s therapists had some great ideas and suggestions so I thought I’d share them with you today.
We started talking about going to Disney during his therapy sessions. We show him pictures and short YouTube videos of the rides and attractions at all the parks. Sometimes, he will really sit there and look; other times, not so much. I’ve also been telling him when he is watching the Mickey Mouse Club House on TV, that he will get to meet Mickey and Minnie very soon.
Michael seems to have his favorites when it comes to Disney. Recently, I overheard him listening to the music from Moana. Alex had recorded a short clip of the movie, so I played it for Michael, and he was going crazy for it. I’m not sure if he likes her or the music (hehe). Either way, he was happy, so that’s a plus!
When it comes to safety in the parks, I must make sure I have everything covered. When it comes to Michael being non-verbal, I am always concerned about him running off and not being able to communicate his needs and wants. With that said, I had ordered a Disney themed t-shirt with a picture of Mickey Mouse on the front with the Autism puzzle pieces. The back of the shirt simply says, “Please be kind, I have autism.” On the sleeve of the shirt is my cell #. I was happy with it but then, after talking with Michael’s therapist, she volunteered to make additional vinyl pieces with my cell # to put on the other Disney T-shirts I purchased myself. This turned out to be much less costly and she made extra ones for Alex as well.
We also rented a stroller for Michael as I am not sure how long he can go or how tired he will be from all the walking. For Alex, we are going to play it by ear. They can always take turns, or if need be, I can rent another stroller as well.
I am hoping that all of these little extra steps will help Michael transition smoothly into our Disney vacation. We still have a few more weeks left and, during that time, I will do my best to continue talking all about Disney!
How do you prepare your kids for Disney? I’d love to hear in the comments below!