Vacation - Thoughts

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by stiggysgirl, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. stiggysgirl

    stiggysgirl Stiggysgirl

    We are going on our first family vacation. I am starting to get very nervous. We are taking our son to Disney. This was my parents idea to have our whole family go as part of our family Christmas so we're going the first week of December. I am worried that this is going to be to much stimulation for DS. We are planning activities but I am trying to plan down time too. I just wanted to get anyone elses thoughts and experiences for vacations and how I can help keep it fun and ensure that we can keep explosions at a minimum. Thank you.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Hi! I think it's a good idea. You can by the 3 or 4 day "Hopper" ticket, I think is what it is called. Then, you go and and leave each park at your convenience without paying more. Maybe don't plan full days so you and DS can have a little down time in the room alone for rest and unwinding.
  3. maril

    maril New Member

    That is great! I hope you and your family have a wonderful time! Planning down time is a great idea. It sounds like your parents are going, too? Bet he'll enjoy that time with them. Maybe he can spend some time with just them, too, doing something not so stimulating. Will you fly or drive? If you are driving and it is a long distance that could be trying. Plan to take games, etc., allow for plenty of stops along the way (bathroom, etc.); ask him for ideas, too. If he doesn't have his own camera, how about getting him one of those one-time-use cameras? He might really enjoy that, taking pics along the way.

    It will probably help you greatly, as I am sure you know, (especially around the holidays with everything else going on), to prepare as much in advance as possible, even packing early if you can -- make the whole event as stress-free as possible, so you can enjoy the time with your family.

    I LOVE Disneyworld! Unfortunately, we have not been able to get back to visit for many years. I would like for my son to go. He's never been there.

    Good luck! Happy (and safe) traveling!
  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I hope you will all have a good time, and that the meltdowns will be kept to a minimum. I would encourage you to talk to the grandparents in advance about what may happen, and how you expect to deal with it. If you meet with resistance, don't feel shy about explaining that you understand and appreciate their concerns, however you are the parent and these are your decisions to make. Make sure that they understand that you appreciate their support and that if they have concerns they should immediately keep their mouths shut in front of difficult child, and choose a quiet time after the vacation to discuss their thoughts and concerns with you.

    Good luck!
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My advice is to have no expectations of the trip. In other words, do not put on anyone that they will have the time of their life at Disney. Or this will be the best vacation ever.

    It is time away. It is a place with many things to do. Let the kids have input in how the day is going to go so everyone knows what is happening that day. Be open to changes. Be prepared to leave suddenly.

    My difficult child had to stop in every bathroom in Disney. Is that horrible? No. But, the other 12 people we were traveling with got extremely annoyed. I told them repeatedly to go ahead without us and we would meet up with them and they were insistent on not doing that. So, quit complaining then. If she wants to see the bathrooms at Disney - who am I to say that is not the best way to spend her vacation??!! LOL!
  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Another thought- perhaps take some low sugar snacks with you that you can access and difficult child can eat easily (no mess and no wait).
  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Contact Disney and tell them you are traveling with a child with special needs. Be up front with them about his needs. I have only heard very very good things about how accommodating Disney is when it comes to kids with- special needs.
  8. Sounds like fun - the suggestion to contact Disney is a great one; particularly if it can keep difficult child from having to wait in long lines ALL day long. Hopper passes work well to.

    husband took difficult child to Disney a few years ago; downtime for our difficult child was (still is) defined as sitting in the hotel room and watching TV. Boring for everyone else, but this means he's had enough. The other big thing was realizing that he would be nervous, would be shrill and on edge, but that he was still having a great time. husband was able to keep this perspective and they still talk about the great time that they had.
  9. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    We went to Disney World when difficult child was 8 years old. He was a true easy child at that time and it was not what he expected. We arrived on Sunday and by Wednesday, he was literally hiding under the bed because he didn't want to leave the time share.

    What we learned:

    difficult child was very disappointed in Disney World because it is not the huge carnival type rides he thought it would be. Most of the "rides" are very gentle (so folks like me can enjoy). There was not enough "action rides" for him (we don't do the real scary ones like Thunder Mountain but his uncle took him on the Mission Space ride). We spent a lot of time at the ride areas. Animal Kingdom had his favorites.

    difficult child really wanted time at the timeshare to go swimming. This was in January and with an outdoor pool, it was too cold before we left for the day and when we got back to swim.

    On Wed am husband, sister in law, and easy child went to get brother in law from the airport so I said to just leave difficult child and myself at the timeshare. difficult child and I watched a movie in the timeshare's private movie theator.

    Then later that day, we went to Epcot. difficult child is a skinny kid so even though a little tall, still fit into strollers so I rented one for the rest of that day. It wasn't used much but was so handy when needed.

    We drove across the state and went to CoCoa beach on Thursday. The kids loved that more then anything else in we did that week. No cost and an empty beach!

    So, do plan down time. Make sure you know what difficult child has in mind to assure him that you will get to do some of what he wants if not all. Let him know that on vacations everyone shares and you try to make sure everyone gets to do things they want.

    Watch for Fast Passes for busy rides. I think you get assigned a certain time for enterance. As long as you get there a minute or two before that time, there will be no waiting.

    Oh, Animal Kingdom was my kids' most favorite. If you go on safari, get there the earliest time possible and head for the safari. The animals are out in the morning for feeding and seem to be harder to see as the day goes on.

    Don't try to get everything in. There is so much that to try to plan for everything possible would truly be overwhelming and stressful - not enough hours in the day - would take about 3 days per park to do. Many of the parks are in "sections" so you can easily bypass many without knowing what you are missing. So, you can plan ahead which 'sections' you want to visit.

    We went to a different park each day for a sampling of everything. I would love to spend a few more days at Epcot.

    Have fun - ask difficult child what he is expecting so if there is something you know will not happen that he plans on you can address it now. It would have made our Wednesday morning so much easier (his first major meltdown ever so we were all caught off guard).
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  10. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    P.S. For two days (Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom) we carried Creative Memory 5 X 7 scrapbooks with a few different colored pens in a lunch box for autographs. We took a picture of the character and when we got home the picture went on the page opposite the autograph and the kids got to decorate their own book.

    difficult child refused to let the "girl" characters sign his book. I believe he also refused to get an autograph from Winnie the Pooh and Piglet and other 'little kids' characters but did get one from Tigger. I was so glad I had a daughter to met those Princesses as well as the "little kids" characters.
  11. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    wife was one of our favorite places to go.
    I was going to suggest a back pack with water bottle, snacks like cheese and crackers and other yummies for when difficult child is needy. There are area's where you can diminish stimulation. Sitting in a park like area to let difficult child just mellow out was a regular on our trips. We went early and took a break in the afternoon if we planned to go back at night for the parade.

    If a ride has a long line, you can get a stamped ticket that tells you when to come back for a guaranteed walk on. I forget what it's called.
    My easy child works there and loves it.

    If you go to animal kingdom, remember the animals are most active early in the day when being fed and late afternoon at feeding time.

    The character breakfasts were special to my son's. I would put some Disney movies on for difficult child to help make the characters fresh in his mind. Good luck.
    For us it was important to keep difficult child's sleep schedule as much as possible.
  12. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Use the Fast Pass system to reserve your spot on the rides you don't want to miss.

    I'd also suggest using the tag-team approach for waiting in lines. Have one family member wait in line (even if it's the fast pass line) and someone else can take difficult child to look at something until you get to the head of the line. That will minimize potential meltdowns out of boredom or sensory overload or fatigue or whatever.

    I'd also bring protein snacks.

    AND if difficult child has a handheld video game, BRING IT!
  13. stiggysgirl

    stiggysgirl Stiggysgirl

    Thank you all for you tips. We are flying as the drive would take 2 days. The flight is direct so it will be 2 hours. We are staying on Disney property so we will get the privlage of extra park hours and fast passes. We have a 7 day park hopper so we can come and go from the parks as we want so it will make it easy to take down time. I appreciate the tip about snacks in a backpack. We are planning on taking him on a fishing trip while there its a disney extra but husband and I thought it would be worth it as DS loves to fish and thought it would be a less stimulating activity to do for part of a day. Its only a 2 hour activity but we figured it was well worth the money it would be something he would really enjoy. I got him a book that is a scrapbook in the end tells all the best rides to hit and all the best spots to see the characters and in the back you have spots for character autographs. And you fill it in while your there to be a scrapbook of your trip its great. So we've been talking about this as we've been planning this trip for a year. Anyway thanks a ton for your advise and tips.
  14. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    If there is a possibility that your difficult child will need to see every bathroom, as BW's did, or that there will be times when you will have to take a break on a bench while others move on, it would be a really good idea to have a set of walkie talkies so that you can keep the rest of your party informed as to where you are and when you might join them.

    We had a deal at Six Flags that if we got seperated we would meet at the flags. We got seperated at the bumper cars, and I went to the flags. For an hour and a half. While they all stayed at the bumper cars. "Well, that's where we were when we saw you last, so we figured you would come back.":mad: You can make all the arrangements in advance you want, but someone will always have a better idea that they will want to go with.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    That's a good idea about setting up rendezvous. We have various events and places here and the first thing we have done with the kids on arrival at either a venue or a building within a venue, is designate a rendezvous point.

    Other suggestions - talk to difficult child about what he expects as well as what he can suggest as things to keep him calm and happy. Letting him have everything his way is NOT the answer and he surely will be smart enough to realise you are not handing him a permission slip to be a spoilt brat! But we were able to do this with difficult child 3 - he knew about himself that he needed to do some schoolwork and also that some schoolwork often settled him down, so we would set off to the park with spare food (sandwiches and drinks) in the backpack (keeping him fed is one more anti-stress method - he's a lot more detached about popcorn or hot chips if he's got a tummy full of baked bean sandwiches) and also some pages of maths problems to do.
    I remember one particularly difficult day at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary when there was a wildlife show on and difficult child 3 was stressing out from the crowd, the loud microphone and simply being out in public - and I turned him round on the stand (so he couldn't see the crowds or the show) and he sat on one step with his legs hanging through and used the next step up on the stand as his desk to do his schoolwork. He quieted right down from mid-tantrum and we all enjoyed the show much more. After the show he even came down from the stand to have his photo taken with a large Mountain Brushtail Possum (bobuck). Big beggar.

    difficult child 3 knew he was more anxious than most people and knew about his autism. This made it easier for us to explain things to him and to listen to him when he said, "I'm not coping."

    Other things that can help - if stimulation is an issue, then sometimes something as simple as wearing sunglasses and a hat can reduce stimulation to whatever the person can handle. Earplugs are also an option if there is too much noise. The best time to get used to ear plugs might be on the plane. Other alternatives to ear plugs are GOOD ear buds for MP3 players, or small headphones. I find the squishy foam ear plugs often don't fit a child's ears very well, but you can cut them down with scissors. Similarly, the ear buds with MP3 players come in different varieties and after some searching I've found the bubble ones seem to be much more adaptable to smaller ear canals. Even if there's no music going in, they can reduce the assault of external noise.

    Reducing overall sensory input can reduce 'irritability' (for want of a better term) and hopefully make it easier for difficult child to stay on track.

  16. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    You have got some great advice!
    We have talked about going one day, with the in-laws to help. But K just can not handle back to back days like that. Not even in a Hotel. It is just too much.
    Maybe one day?
    I hope you guys have a great time and calm.