Saturday, February 11, 2012

Doing Disney Handicapable

Doing Disney Handicapable

I am not disabled but I have limits. Stairs are harsh on my knees and if it gets too hot under the California sun I start to melt. My husband and daughter have “invisible” disabilities, things you can’t see by looking at how they walk or stand but limit them. Both are ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and long lines can cause flashes of anger.

My parents and my dear friend are disabled. Being with them and knowing my husband and daughter’s limits I learned to see Disney through different eyes. I started to notice line of site for someone sitting in a wheelchair and how to get to a ride without stairs or walking far. I became aware of what rides a person in a wheelchair with limited mobility can easily get on and off as well as what rides don’t require getting out of the chair or scooter. I learned to not be afraid to go and ask for a Guest Assistance Pass for my husband and daughter so we don’t have to stand in the long lines that cause both of them to lose patience and ruin the day.

By taking the time to educate myself on what is available I made the parks and cruise ships a place where we could go and celebrate life. Disneyland became a refuge where we could relax and find some healing for the spirit.

For my parents Disneyland became a place that kept them going. When they would feel like they could do nothing but stair at the same four walls it was off to Disneyland to relieve the boredom and stave off depression. This kept my daddy alive years longer than expected.

For my husband and daughter is a place where we can go to stretch the limits, without making them to go so far they get upset. They can go and feel totally “normal”, and they are! We have learned how long they can stand in a confining line. If the line is under that we will wait. If the line is longer we will use the GAP card to go up the fastpass line. The length of time they can wait has improved!

Disneyland is a place to test limits. You can push yourself to try a ride you feel is physically taxing or emotionally scary. You can learn to control your frustration as you get jostled while you wait in line for everything. Disney parks are a perfect place to learn to deal with crowds. If crowds set  you off then you can work through it.

The way to deal with it is first know your limits. If you can’t stand for long periods of time then don’t  expect to be able to walk around the park all day without getting tired or hurting. Bring any mobility device you usually use or rent a wheelchair from Disney if needed. If you get upset in crowds then maybe you need to go during the off season when the crowds are less. If you have a child with autism that does not cope well with loud sounds then maybe fireworks are not a good idea. Make wise choices.

Know when to step back and find a quiet place to regroup. You can always find someplace to settle the mind and body. From little places like the blue porch on Main Street to the First Aide center in every park there is a place to find calm. Make sure if you take medication you take it with you. Don’t go so far off your diet it makes you sick, especially if you are diabetic or have food allergies. Make sure you eat and drink enough. The car (body) can’t run without fuel!

Don’t let a disability keep you from going. People bring all sorts of medical equipment to the parks! I’ve seen O2 tanks, portable ventilators that breath for people and even IV’s. You can go if you wish too and you prepare.  Just make sure you if you have a medical condition you talk to your doctor about what your physical limits.

Don’t think there is nothing for you to do if you can’t ride all the rides. There are at least some rides everybody can ride. Even if you choose not to ride any rides there are plenty of shows to keep you entertained all day and late into the night. So get out of the house and go to the park!

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