Disney With Special Needs: The Aspie’s Guide to the Galaxy …. Or At Least Disney World


Editor’s Note: I am delighted to welcome Taryn to The Affordable Mouse writer’s team. Experienced in planning Disney vacations for family that includes adults with a variety of special needs, ranging from Asperger’s Syndrome, to vegan dietary needs, to senior citizens, Taryn will be writing about Disney With Special Needs. We are honored to be able to share her expert advice!

Asperger’s is my super power. At least, that’s how I like to look at it. Asperger’s Syndrome allows me to see the world from a unique perspective, appreciate tiny details, and find intricate connections and meanings in everyday experiences in ways that others don’t. Just like anyone with super powers, though, I have some drawbacks, too. Superman has his Kryptonite, Batman has those pesky flashbacks and emotions, and Ironman can’t even have a drink at the end of a hard day. I have overstimulation, anxiety, difficulty interpreting situations, confusion, and a truly astonishing ability to get lost.

Just like those superheroes can take down bad guys and restore order to society, I can take down situations that might not be the most comfortable right out of the gate and keep myself relatively in control while I do it. Just like each of them, I just have to do it a little differently, and that definitely applies to every time I visit Walt Disney World with my family. Disney World is truly the Most Magical Place on Earth, even for those of us who may need a little more pixie dust than others, and I want to make sure that any family who has an Aspie’s super hero or two (or four) who is thinking about making the trip feels confident knowing that it is not only possible, but it may turn out to be one of the most amazing experiences that you ever have.

You know what they say about people with Asperger’s. You meet one Aspie…and you’ve met exactly one Aspie. Each one of us is different, as that is perfectly illustrated in my family. My little travel group has two people with Asperger’s, both adults, and we respond to situations in different ways. This means that what works for one adult or child might not work for another. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share with you some of the ways that my family turned Disney World into a place that we worried was going to be one big week of meltdowns into truly our home away from home and the place that my infamously stoic brother calls the one place in the world he feels at peace.

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Taryn was born and raised, and still lives in Richmond, Virginia. Neither she nor her husband ever had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World when they were children, but when their daughter Avalon came along, they decided she was not going to follow in their footsteps. They brought Avalon for the first time when she was 3 and have been hooked ever since. Now along with Taryn’s mother and equally Disney-loving older brother, they go “home” at least once a year, and by the time she is staring longingly at Cinderella Castle from the ferry on their last night, Taryn is well on her way to planning the next trip. As a group consisting of two adults with Asperger’s, including one who is also vegan, a very accommodating husband, an only child, a senior, and a service dog, they are a pretty special family, but Taryn is excited to show that the World really is The Most Magical Place on Earth and that there is a place there for everyone. When she isn’t thinking about her next Disney adventure and trying to come up with a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party costume that will beat her Oozma Kappa nerd look, she is a professional blogger and novelist, but Taryn also likes to indulge her Disney passion on her Etsy shop Baby and Toto, Too.

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2 Responses to Disney With Special Needs: The Aspie’s Guide to the Galaxy …. Or At Least Disney World

  1. ShepW says:

    I may have Asperger’s, even though it’s undiagnosed. My condition is a set of learning disabilities, ranging from difficulty dealing with abstractions to math difficulties such as geometry problems or algebra. But I don’t let these issues get in the way of enjoying all that Disney has to offer. That’s why when I visit Disney World, I like to plan where I’m going to visit and when. Also, because I’m a solo traveler, I don’t have to consult anybody about where I’m going, where to meet, when to meet where, and what I’m going to eat while visiting any of the parks. One difficulty I have is understanding verbal directions, so I’ll constantly ask helpful folks like cast members where an attraction or eatery is until I find it. Ditto for Men’s restrooms (I’m a guy). All in good fun! 🙂

    • Taryn says:

      I have trouble with directions, too. It can definitely put a bit of stress on getting around the parks, but that’s where milestones and Cast Members are invaluable. And super tolerant husbands, of course 🙂

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