Just got back from a weeklong trip to Disney World. We have been there several times, although Alex's meltdowns last time (before we really knew anything was "wrong" with him) had me doubting we would ever return.
They do a fantastic job with special needs, by the way. Alex is off milk; we did a trial of the GF/CF diet last year and noticed a difference with casein. At each meal the Chef came out and discussed what he could eat and even made some meals in a different way so he could eat them. They have Toffuti at every restraurant. I know they also have special passes for special needs kids to avoid long lines. Alex is not that severely affected and does not have trouble waiting in lines so we didn't pursue this. However, I have heard they do a really great job in that area.
My only complaint about Disney is some of the other "guests" (Disney's word for customers/visitors). My two youngest (Alex and Sarah) had a few difficult moments (AKA meltdowns). Alex for obvious reasons and Sarah for less obvious reasons although she definitely has some behavior issues that I think are related to her adoption or in this case the hunger she must have experienced in the orphanage. She is very concerned about where her next meal is coming from and gets positively frantic if she feels food is unavailable. Hence, she had a gigantic meltdown on the bus one day when she was hungry and I had no food. I mean, enormous. Screaming she hated me, hitting me, etc. Of course there were numerous gawkers on the bus who just couldn't refrain from staring and whispering behind their hands (like I don't know what they are saying). Looks of utter disgust and out and out staring apparently are completely appropriate. Alex got the same stares/whispers/disapproving glares when he had a meltdown after a long day in the park. (Alex did very well overall - he behaved pretty much typically for most of the trip, I am happy to say, except for a few incidents).
Here's my plea - don't stare or whisper when you see a child having a meltdown. And teach your kids not to stare, point, etc. Meltdowns look like tantrums but are different. You may not be able to tell the difference, but give the kid the benefit of the doubt if you see a child "tantruming". Tantrums are a way for a kid to get his way, a battle of wills. Meltdowns are the result of too much stimulation, or if the child is put into a position he/she is not equipped to deal with. Autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and adoption-related issues are not visible, but are just as real as cerebral palsy, Down's Syndrome or a broken leg. And it hurts just as much to have people gawking at your kid for something they really can't help. For the record, I am not perfect with this either. I sometimes get super-angry at my kids even when I know they are incapable of controlling themselves and I definitely get embarrassed. And sometimes I look at a kid I don't know and think "what a brat" But then I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Because you just never know what the whole story may be. I would love to tell these parents with their "perfect" kids that I, too, could pat myself on the back and congratulate myself on how well-behaved my kids are if my kids were all typically-developing kids. My older two kids sometimes get embarrassed by the meltdowns and I don't blame them. But I hope they are also learning not to stare, point, whisper, or judge.
Thoughts on Newtown
4 years ago