Hi! I am a parent of 3 wonderful adult kids now. My middle son who is now 22 is autistic. I am a certified Sp Ed teacher with my Master’s degree and hold an Administrator position in my school district in Sp Ed. Which makes me qualified I believe to say the following.
I am angry and frustrated over people getting DAS for their kids and family over these new G+ rules.,
I truly thought about getting it this for upcoming trip for my son and for us but that went against everything that I have been teaching my son up to this point.
I have been taking my autistic son to WDW since he was 2 years old yearly and we have never requested DAS for him. The reason is he nor anyone else gets front of the line access to anything else in the world due to your disability If we were in line any place else- Mc Donald’s, Academy’s, Wal-Mart, etc you have to wait in line. That is the Real World.
It is our responsibility as parents to teach our kids how to navigate and be responsible adults without restrictions.
I know I am going to get a lot of hate for this post but it is my honest opinion that kids need to learn how to wait and be part of the day to day realities.
I understand major health and special circumstances but I don’t believe because a kid is Autistic or ADDH they are entitled to DAS.
My 22 year old son who is autistic did graduate from HS with a regular HS diploma and is currently full time employed and moved up into a management position. I truly believe his success is due to the fact that we never let his disability be a hindrance or an excuse for extra favors.
I truly understand those that need it for health reasons but please parents - don’t take advantage of it because your kid is autistic or ADHD. Your kid needs to learn and deal with the real world and wait like the rest of us.
In the long run your kid will thank you for teaching them how to wait and be conscious of their behaviors in the real world and society.
My son has moderate/high functioning autism with moderate sensory sensitivity. I feel this deeply. I was and still am so afraid the world will hurt him. I tried everything I can to try to prepare him, even if that means he has to do some extra work. He has thankfully embraced this and understands that he can’t rely on anyone giving him special treatment. I never used DAS but I never begrudged anyone that TRUELY needed it. There are many that get it because they can but could honestly accommodate the needs without it. But I also see that it gives some parents a break and thats part of the magic. And a lot of disabilities can be invisible. But
The flat out abuse, now that’s crap.
And even if you don’t, being a parent is a thankless job sometimes, lol.
To me, only those that lie to get DAS are taking unfair advantage of it.
My understanding is that a specific diagnosis doesn’t make you eligible for DAS. You need to talk to the CM about what specific challenges make you / your charge eligible. Some autistic people or people with ADHD are probably eligible; others probably are not.
I’m sorry that you’re feeling angry and frustrated. If the family feels that DAS is warranted, however, and WDW agrees, I don’t think it’s the place of a guest to chide that family.
Different kids have different challenges and need different accommodations and supports to be as successful as they can be. If you deny a child a necessary accommodation, you’re not helping them. If it’s an area where progress is possible, one can both accommodate the challenge and help the child develop the skills to mitigate or eliminate the need for that accommodation in the future.
I encourage you to look into the work of Dr. Ross Greene. It really changed the way I look at the challenges that disabled children have and how people can help them learn the skills they need to live their lives. This is a decent place to start, if you’re interested.
The thing is I know of 2 families that have taken advantage of DAS under the guise of needing it and brag about beating the system. And my social network isn’t quite as big as some. This makes people feel how the OP feels. Maybe that’s what’s going on. I never want to judge and have faith that most people are doing right. But there is abuse of the system, and not just DAS, by parents. It can envoke feelings in parents that really put in the work.
So it sounds like they’re lying about the extent of their kids’ challenges? That’s not right, and I agree that it’s understandable to be upset by people lying to gain unfair advantage.
I don’t think that the OP was talking about families lying to get DAS, though. I interpreted her post to be a blanket statement that neurodivergent people shouldn’t be using DAS even if they’re not lying about their needs / challenges. Assuming I read the post correctly, I do take issue with that stance.
I’m curious as to previous experiences at Disney. Were you unaware of the nature of DAS and by extension, the folks using DAS?
I’m glad your son was able to graduate from HS with a regular diploma. Perhaps your state is different. Here in Missouri students with an IEP and multiple modifications do graduate with a regular diploma. I know this because our youngest grandson navigated a dozen years of public school with an IEP, and a reader and a writer because on his own, he was still reading on a 1st grade level in 5th grade. His brother, our middle grandson, also had an IEP for extra time to complete tests.
With your education and experience I am hoping you’re not advocating all kids with autism have the same expectations of them.
I’m also hoping that your time at Disney was not so badly impacted by your DAS observations that you and your family will stay away from visiting again.
I hope with time your memories of your trip will be mostly happy.
DAS does not give front of line access. You still have to wait, just not in the line.
And DAS was created specifically for those with cognitive disabilities as well as others for whom waiting in a line for a lengthy period would not be possible or would be risky.
The DAS system is different to the old system, the name of which escapes me.
Every situation is different and while on a very general level I agree with the sentiment I also know without question that it’s just not possible for every child to do that.
There are definitely people out there who will take advantage and misuse this tool that is meant to help. But if it helps make even one person’s life magical (because WDW is an escape from the real world, and very much not Walmart or Burger King), then I’m for it.
You are definitely entitled to your opinion and to raise your children as you like (and as they are able to adhere to your expectations) but everyone else is too.
^thank heaven for this. My daughter suffered from a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) back in the day and wouldn’t have been able to go to WDW without DAS. She’s better now, thankfully, and no longer needs these accommodations. There’s nothing to feel guilty about, or resentment towards others, for using DAS.
Edit: DD hasn’t actually used DAS. To clarify, if we had gone to WDW while she was unwell, she would have needed DAS. I speak up on behalf of anyone who needs DAS or the other accommodations linked above.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
We have never used DAS even for my son who was ADHD, SPD, and just recently Diagnosed with very high functioning autism. Also social anxiety. I didn’t have to use it for lines because I am a Liner and planned our days well but I have considered it lately for any upcoming trip. I will tell you what sends him into over drive, the over stimulation and sensory overload. So if DAS can help with that then I myself will take advantage of it. I agree the world doesn’t make accommodations in general for kids like ours but WDW isn’t the real world.
And again…everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs. And congrats to your DS, I am hoping just to get mine graduated from HS on time with a somewhat decent GPA.
Wow. How about we stop projecting intentions on people, assuming we know their situations, and getting “pissed” about whatever it is we decide is going on with their family? For what it’s worth, I raise my DS on the spectrum very much the same way that you do, and he is also well on his way to college. We maintain pretty much the same standards for him as for our other two kids( grades, chores, behavior). We use DAS as he stims by furiously pacing back and forth with little to no spatial awareness. He is in a “zone” and can not see/will run into you. So, we are generally able to wait around a corner as he paces. DAS is not front of the line access. It is waiting in an alternative place. Are there people who game the system? Of course, but…guess what? We are(thank god) not the DAS police. Disney has issued it, and really that’s all we know, and all we need to know. Unless you are prepared to wander around the Magic Kingdom grilling parents about their children’s disabilities and parenting styles, I suggest you not worry about it, and enjoy your own vacation.
Everyone has their own opinion and to me it’s fine if she chooses not to use it. And I do think there are people that exaggerate their circumstance. But I’m also glad Disney offers it. My SILs neice is only able to go to Disney with the aide of DAS.