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We will be traveling to Disney World during Easter weekend with our 14 yo son who has autism & panic disorder and he will also just have gotten out of a cast from foot surgery. Would it be worth it to get a GAC & how would we go about obtaining on
- Asked by Denise from NC on 1/26/2008
Request a Guest Assistance Card (GAC) at Guest Services. A letter from your doctor regarding your son’s special needs will speed the process. Walt Disney World can be overwhelming for any guest, however WDW strives to offer a welcoming visit for everyone. The GAC would be a great tool for your family.
Easter Weekend will bring in large crowds. The GAC may allow you to wait in a more secluded area although not necessarily giving your family front of the line privileges. If you wait in crowded queues, finding Hidden Mickeys can be a distraction. Use Extra Magic hours if you are a resort guest and FASTPASS to avoid waiting in standby lines. Eat meals early and take breaks back at your hotel or in other quiet areas.
My husband (Behavior Analyst) helps families travel to WDW. Since Autism Spectrum Disorders vary greatly, determine what style of touring is best for your family. Will you need verbal or picture cues? Sensory seeking or defensive strategies? Prepare by showing pictures, WDW Planning DVDs, a friend’s home movie and creating social stories to help with situations that you know will be challenging for your child. My husband has heard that the Magic Kingdom is the most helpful when using the GAC card.
If your child is sensitive to loud noises, there are many places to avoid or try ear plugs. Our son was a preemie and had sensory issues with loud noises. On one visit, we watched the Wishes Fireworks from our Wilderness Lodge hotel room with our hands clasped tightly over his ears. We once took him screaming out of Mickey's PhilharMagic because of the noise level. Research all attractions and/or sit by exits. Do not hesitate to ask the Greeter any questions that might concern your family about that particular show or ride.
For his foot injury, consider renting a wheelchair. This may also be a place for him to feel secure in any situations that become overwhelming. Go at your own pace, don’t try to do everything and enjoy a magical time!