Special tips for helping hypersensitive kids
have a great Disney vacation

  1. Just say no to Commando/Turbo Touring. You need to keep it slow, easy, repetitive, calm, gentle. If you can stay calm and in control of your own emotions, it will help your kid feel safe and grounded.

  2. Many special needs kids love riding Disney Transportation. The boats, trains, monorails and buses can be calming for some children. If your child is overwhelmed by the rides and attractions, this may be an alternative way to spend some time.

  3. Use a sturdy smooth-rolling stroller. One with sides and a cover would be nice- the deep pressure and containment may help them feel safe. If your child is larger, you might consider renting a wheelchair.

  4. Some children are hypersensitive to sounds. Reduce auditory input as much as possible. Remember that many kids with autistic spectrum disorders rely more often on their visual system for cues, so you shouldn’t depend on having them listen to you – let them see you when you want to communicate with them.

  5. When they are acting out, try to remember their reduced verbal abilities and hypersensitivity to physical stimuli... at all costs, avoid getting tense, uptight or punitive! That squirrelly behavior may be a sign that there is a little blister that you can hardly see that is causing them total overload, or a bit of a sunburn that most kids would brush off that makes them totally miserable, or somebody else's tension and frustration are causing them emotional distress.

  6. Many kids are overwhelmed at first. With proper support they do learn to love it! But some people have one little disaster and then avoid theme parks altogether from then on - big mistake! Imagine what it will be like if all their friends go out to a fair one day when they are older, but your kid can't go because she never learned how to cope with the sensory input... a major social loss for kids with special needs if they can't go on trips with their pals.

  7. Mental Preparation is very helpful! Trip planning videos, sing-along videos that feature the parks, books about the parks, about the characters, about circuses and fairs... and lots of trips to smaller parks closer to home - short, repetitive, predictable trips loaded with fun - a great way to prepare.

  8. Consider staying at one of the “Home-Away-From-Home” resorts that includes a place to sit and relax, eat meals in a quiet environment.

  9. The kids’ clubs are very good with most kids, but you may want to try in-room babysitting instead for a good, calm, restful experience for your child while you have your much deserved night out. We have had very good luck with Fairy Godmothers Child Care Service in Orlando -- their sitters have experience with special needs children and they are very good. Their phone number is (407) 277-3724.

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Last revision June 3, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Teri Doolittle, PA, MHP
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