• Before going anywhere, make sure that you go straight to guest services and ask for a special assistance pass. This is not a fast track pass whereby you are given an allocated time to go to a ride. A special assistance pass enables you to go straight to the front of the queue and certainly proved invaluable for us.
• Ensure that you take proof of your child's disability with you. We didn't need to show ours (I think they wanted to get us out of the place as quickly as possible!) but in theory, to obtain a special assistance pass, it is needed.
• If your children are on special diets then most places can cater for them with advanced notice. Decide on where you are going to eat the next day and give them the required warning.
• Don't aim to do too much in one day. There is so much to do and see at Disney World that invariably something is going to be missed. In my humble opinion, it is far better to keep your sanity and enjoy what you can get through, rather than drag everyone around till they drop.
• Find out when the carnival and firework displays are in advance and try to do less or have a quieter day ifyou are going to stay out or take the children to watch them.
• Remember to take enough sun screens and keep in the shade at peak times.
• Try to take bottles of water and a cold bag with you. Drinks are needed constantly and can be expensive to buy.
I bought them all one large Disney bottle at the beginning of the holiday and they refilled them as they went along.
• Take cheap plastic raincoats out with you each day. Not a day went by without each of us being thoroughly soaked to the skin at some point.
• Wear comfortable shoes and ensure the children do too.
• Take a personal stereo and a set of headphones if you have a sound-sensitive child like Ben. Pre-record some of his or her favourite music or stories and let him or her listen to that while in the noisy areas.
• For parents with autistic children in buggies or wheelchairs, attach something for them to twiddle with or spin, then if things get too much they can distract themselves.
• Try not to be disheartened if your autistic child appears to not even notice the sights and wonders of Disney World. Remember that other members of the family are there too and no one really knows how much a severely autistic child is absorbing.
• Have fun and enjoy yourself too!
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Autism is a developmental disorder that manifests itself in early childhood and affects the functioning of the brain, primarily in the areas of social interaction and communication. Children with autism look like other children but do not play or behave like other children. They must struggle daily to cope and connect with the world around them.