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We would love to go on the DCL. Have reservations due to our 7yo autistic son. I know how accomodating WDW is. What about cruise line? Do they have any special accomodations? What about child activity center?
- Asked by Allison from LA on 2/13/2009
I have heard many wonderful and reassuring comments from parents of special needs children that have cruised with DCL.
I recently sat down with the Hotel Director, Cruise Director and Youth Activities Manager to discuss the accommodations made for children with special needs.
Many of the youth counselors have training in Child Psychology as well as various special needs. Many special needs kids, including those with Autism, Down Syndrome and ADD, join in the activities offered.
DCL recommends that a parent first contact the cruise line prior to your sailing date to notify them of your special needs. This is the initial step. Once on board, you'll want to meet with the Youth Activities staff to discuss your child's sensory sensitivities, triggers, limitations and so on.
Then you'll be able to make some choices. For example, if your child fears crowds, the staff can tell you when the activity areas are likely to be the most and least crowded. 9:30 a.m. until Noon seem to be a very busy time.
While DCL does not guarantee that your child will have one on one care, often during less busy times such as when the ship is in port, a counselor can offer some extra time with a special needs child in the Oceaneer Club or Lab. Your child may want to make Flubber or choose a less hands on project. The staff will help your child sail smoothly through any group or solo activities.
Parents are always welcome to stay with their child or they can feel secure knowing that they'll be paged should a concern arise. Do not hesitate to sit and observe the programs and/or interactions with your child.
As a Mom, I've felt very comfortable leaving my child at the youth activities. As a Board Certified Behavior Anaylst, my husband is very impressed with the quality of the programming.
I hope that you decide to sail with DCL. It's a relaxing vacation that pampers the entire family!