Ride THIS, Not THAT: How To Have The Best Disneyland Vacation With Your Autistic Children

If you are planning a Disneyland vacation, and you have purchased a travel package through an approved Disneyland travel agency, you will probably receive a set of "Magic Bands" a few weeks before your departure. These allow you to reserve FastPass attractions up to two months before you ever arrive in the parks, a perk that will definitely come in handy when you have children with autism. As you research various rides and attractions in the parks to decide which ones you want to reserve, keep the following tips in mind for your kids with autism.

Avoid Rollercoasters Unless You Have a Designated Adult Willing to Sit Them Out

Think about it--while the g-force of most rollercoasters can terrify and thrill the neurotypical person, they are the stuff of nightmares for kids with autism. The motion, sounds, screams and gravity felt with each rise and drop is magnified significantly by an autistic child's inability to filter and interpret these sensations. Unless you have another adult in your party who is willing to be the designated party to sit every coaster out, or you are willing to take turns sitting out different coasters so that someone is always waiting with the special needs child while others ride the coasters, the coasters are out. Instead, ride things that go in circles, like the tea cups, which seem to be very soothing to some kids on the spectrum.

Intersperse Sit-Down Attractions with Rides

Disney parks have tons of fascinating shows and sit-down attractions that could be really fun for your autistic kids. These are often 3D or 4D shows, with animated and interactive components. If your child does not want to put on the 3D/4D glasses, he or she can still watch and enjoy the animation. It is also important to use these types of attractions as buffers between rides so that there is an expected pattern between riding and sitting/ watching a show.

Plan for Down Time or Quiet Time Every Day

Theme parks can be overwhelming, even for adults and neurotypical children. Imagine what they are like for your children on the autism spectrum! Most travel agents already suggest taking your vacation at a leisurely pace and building some quiet time or "down" time into every day. It is just as important for everyone to relax as it is for everyone to enjoy everything theme parks have to offer. You may discover that having that built-in down time allows all of your children, including those with autism, to calm down after an exciting morning or afternoon at the parks.