Disney World with Special Needs: Following Your Own Shells

13522849_1018362718252530_8983601444587470103_oMy family recently saw “Finding Dory” and since we’re friends now I don’t mind admitting to you that I cried for a good portion of it. Without giving away any spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, it really hit close to home and spoke to me like I wasn’t expecting. There were parts of it that were like watching myself in fish form and it was tough. By the end, though, I felt that shimmer of super hero pride again and was finally able to help my little one understand me a little bit better. See Dory —- that’s like Mommy.

That got me thinking about our trips to The World and how, like Dory, I learned to solve problems for myself and not worry about what others thought. Just like Dory asks herself “What would Dory do?”, I think of the issues that I face as what would I do, not what would anyone else in the situation do. That’s why my next bit of advice for you is…

Follow your own shells.

The most important thing to remember when you are heading to Disney World with an Aspie, whether it is you, your child, or your sibling, is that it is your vacation, not anyone else’s. Do what feels right to you. I learned this lesson on my very first trip when I hadn’t had enough water and was feeling very confused and overwhelmed as we walked into Pecos Bill for lunch. My husband brought me out to the patio, sat me down, and wrapped my hand around the pole next to me, whispering in my ear that I needed to stay right there and that he would be back. As he walked away, I noticed a child at the table beside me laughing and telling his mother how “controlled” I was. For a moment, I was offended, but then I realized…who cares what that person thought of me? I don’t know him, I’m never going to see him again, and how I go about my vacation does not in any way impact him, or the other way around. He had no way of knowing how confused or upset I was, or that I tend to wander and get myself hopelessly lost and that my husband was just making sure that I stayed calm long enough for him to go get me something to eat so that I didn’t pass out because of my heart condition. I’m also fairly certain he forgot all about it as soon as he got on Splash Mountain after lunch.

What matters is that your family has the most magical vacation in the way that’s right for you. If that means cuddling with your favorite plush while getting through the crowds, go for it. If it means going completely against every touring plan you have ever read, do it. If it means wearing as many glow bracelets and necklaces that you can fit on your body so that you can pretend to be a part of the Main Street Electrical Parade, get to cracking. You’ll be in good company. Trust yourself, trust the Cast Members, and trust the magic.

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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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