Orlando Vacation Tips: Traveling with Autism
Here at OrlandoVacation.com, we want you to know that we are here to assist families in planning their Orlando or Disney World vacation. One of the things we have done is provide a guide for autistic families on visiting Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando. You can find these guides by clicking on the links below.
In addition, we have set up a few Orlando vacation home rentals that are specifically prepared for families with an autistic child. Please note, we do not charge extra for these homes…it is just our way of doing everything we can to earn your business. Please click here to read what sets these vacation homes apart.
Planning Your Trip
Some of the things that make Orlando such a popular vacation destination are the same things that pose special challenges for people living with ASDs. For example, the theme parks are an almost constant cacophony of stimulating sounds and sights. Loud music, bright parade floats, and towering characters delight some children, but they can trigger an overload and meltdown for others.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires theme parks to provide accommodations that allow guests with disabilities to enjoy them on the same level as non-disabled guests. Fortunately, Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld generally go beyond the minimum requirements to make sure that everyone experiences the magic, even when facing some challenges. If you need a quiet waiting area, a seat near an exit, a rest area for your child’s autism service dog, a family restroom, or other assistance, you’ll find it at the Orlando attractions.
All of the theme parks provide online and/or printed guides for guests with disabilities, including those on the autistic spectrum, to help them know what to expect. Combining the guide with plenty of research before your trip will help you prepare your family and know what to expect. Read guidebooks and online articles and view YouTube videos of rides and shows online to help your child prepare. Combine this knowledge with a structured schedule to reduce the unknowns and the youngster feel in control.
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Your Time At The Theme Parks
Once you’re in Orlando, the Guests Relations personnel at the four Walt Disney World parks, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando can discuss specific accommodations (vacation homes, condos, or Orlando hotels) with you. Always visit Guest Relations as soon as you get to one of the parks. At Disney World, you can get a Guest Assistance Card to help you enjoy the park in a way more comfortable for kids with autism. Let the person behind the counter know your child’s needs, limitations, and challenges to see what assistance is offered.
If you get a vacation package that includes multi-day tickets at the Orlando theme parks, you can work your day around your child’s needs and leave the park if he or she is getting overstimulated and is teetering on the verge of a meltdown. End the day on a positive note whenever possible. If you see the signs building that your youngster has had enough, call it a day before the explosion. That way, you’ll have pleasant memories of the day to cherish instead of spending time in damage control mode.
You might not even have to leave, since many of the parks have quiet, out-of-the-way spots to take a time out. For example, look for the quiet lakefront spots in Epcot Center or around the lagoon at Universal Studios Florida. At the Disney parks, the baby care centers are quiet, air-conditioned places where you can take your child to wind down.
You’ll also find many opportunities for tactile stimulation at the Orlando theme parks if your child has a need to touch and explore. They have playgrounds for children with many things to touch and explore, plus hands-on activities like coloring a custom mask at Epcot or touching and feeding animals at SeaWorld Orlando.
Staying In Orlando
Your chosen accommodations can have a big effect on the success of your family’s vacation. A busy hotel might be too hectic for some special needs children. They may not do well in crowded public areas like swimming pools, and frustration builds more easily when everyone’s stuffed together into a small room.
Consider booking a condo, townhome, or vacation pool home for your family as a more spacious option. Vacation pool homes are especially good options if your child will only be able to handle the theme parks on a limited basis or if you’re visiting in the crowded summer or holiday season. The home can act as a quiet retreat, and the pool is a private spot reserved just for your own family’s enjoyment.