Traveling involves a lot of planning and preparation at best, then factor in the pre-planning when a special needs child is involved, and you’ve got to think about a lot more. Our son is a teenaged autistic, energetic, and very happy guy. He’s always on the move, and he’s very strong.
When planning for our seventh cruise with Disney back in 2011 on their newest ship at the time, the Disney Dream, I streamed videos of anything I could find about the ship. Disney Cruise Line was wonderful in sending me their planning video, which was a useful and informative aid.
It was when I saw the video of the water coaster, the AquaDuck, that my mind began to channel in many directions all at once. I saw a picture of the waiting area and I began to worry. The waiting area was a staircase. Andrew, however, would be thrilled to be waiting up there, not only because of the height but because in his mind he could bounce on and off the staircase. That did not please me at all, so I began to think about how we could handle this. I couldn’t have him waiting there for too long or the other guests would not appreciate the wait. It was also not safe for him to be engaging in that type of behavior.
Luckily, Disney Imagineers do what they do best, and all around the AquaDuck one can find a multitude of distraction and entertainment. For my plan to work, however, two adults were needed at all times. This is what we did.
One person supervised Andrew in the family pool while the second adult waited in line for the AquaDuck. Armed with the portable Wave Phones that are provided for every guest in each stateroom, we were able to communicate with each other.
When my husband was near the top of the staircase, just before entering the short waiting area in the stack, he called down to me at the pool to bring Andrew up. Using my ‘first and then’ routine, I was able to get Andrew out of the pool and up the staircase. This way, Andrew would not be bouncing or jumping on the steps and everyone would be happy and safe. Once I met up with my husband, I passed Andrew off and happily went down the staircase to grab a cool drink and wait on the pool deck to snap a picture of my adventurers.
Guest blogger Jackie Psarianos, a former band and visual art teacher, lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with a university freshman, an autistic teen, a husband, and five rescue cats. With over twenty-three trips to the Disney Parks, Aulani and eight cruises with Disney on all four ships, Jackie is a proud bi-annual Disney Parks visitor. Jackie is a new blogger at www.jackie-psarianos.blogspot.com with a unique perspective on traversing Disney Parks with an autistic child.