Thank you for this post.
I never really considered DAS for our family, but your mentioning sensory issues and anxiety struck a chord. DS14 has anxiety and hates loud noises/places to the degree that he will freeze and then start crying if startled. We used to have to whisper-sing happy bday to him when he was little and our dogs barking when he’s really calm and relaxed can set him into a anxiety attack. We have suspected for years he’s on the spectrum, but tests have not shown he is. I’m now wondering if it might be worth applying for DAS for our trip in June. He wears headphones almost everywhere and always has music playing so he can dull input from the rest of the world; he cannot use earplugs as he produces COPIOUS amounts of ear wax (we have his ears cleaned at least twice a year) and is being treated for a condition similar to eczema in his ears that gets inflamed if he tries to use them.
I’m nervous to even try as when we visited a little over a year ago, my DD16 ended up using the scooter we rented for my husband more than he did. DH has Systemic Scleroderma (Diffuse type) that has resulted in lung fibrosis and other issues, so his ability to walk distances is limited. DD was having extreme foot and hip pain due to her abnormal gait and limited ankle range of motion and at one point twisted her ankle (an ongoing problem). [She broke her right femur when she was 3 and continues to have severe issues with ankle dorsi-flexion (pulling your toes back toward your shin) that has resulted in lots of PT and chiropractic care and recent purchase of orthotics. But I digress…] When DD was using the scooter, because she is young and doesn’t LOOK like she should have issues, we got the stink-eye from several people, especially when she got off the scooter so DH or I could load it onto one of the busses. She hated the looks but dealt with it because she hated the pain more.
I suppose I’m wary about being perceived as abusing the system and feel a bit like we’d be cheating if we applied and got it. But the reality is, it is his vacation too, and if this is something that will help him enjoy his time at WDW, maybe it is worth a try…
First of all, who cares what others think? It’s none of their business. If your husband, or your daughter, or your son legitimately have a need for either an ECV or special consideration for crowds and lines, it doesn’t matter what the rest of the masses think. Your son is the perfect candidate for DAS. If DAS will allow him to enjoy the parks on an even playing field, by all means, get it. Do the video chat rather than the day of one, so that you won’t have to wait in a line for it.
I’m so sorry that your family had to deal with that! People should be more aware that hidden disabilities exist. I applaud your DD for understanding her needs and taking care of herself despite the lack of community support and acceptance.
I wonder how many people that would be legitimate users of DAS feel that way. I suspect that a number do. If a CM approves your DS for DAS after you give an honest description of his circumstances, though, isn’t that kind of proof that it’s an appropriate accommodation to have access to?
As someone that thankfully has no need for the DAS, I say get the DAS. While in the parks, use it where you think it will be helpful. Do what you think you would if there wasn’t the issue.
I think where it crosses the line is when people use it like a VIP tour without the expense and that was only true years ago.
You would so not be abusing the system! Your son is exactly who DAS is designed for. You absolutely should apply.
Also, I was at DLR with my niece and her family. We had DAS for all of her kids (4 with ASD and 1 with Tourettes) but we also had a wheelchair for the oldest little guy (8) who has what they think is juvenile diabetes. But his younger brother (7) has low tone/hyper mobility and he actually ended up needing the wheelchair more than his brother! We worried that people might see them switching off and on and think we were cheating. But we absolutely were not and ultimately we were doing what was best for the kids and screw what bystanders might think!
Sometimes people only need a wheelchair half the time. My maternal grandparents used to swap often. The one that got tired would sit down. Even for the pusher, it was like a walker.
Wheelchair story I think is funny. My grandfather volunteered for a bazillion hours at the VA hospital. They would have him take people from one area to another and the hospital was a maze. People were lost all the time. He had … I forget what it is called, but he had trouble picking up one of his feet. He’d lift his leg, and the foot would droop and drag. Often the patient was in better shape than he was. So, he’d sit in the wheelchair and navigate.
I think our boys would get along really well! …although my ds16 would rather just stay home and play video games. He does enjoy it once I get him to WDW (or DLR), but it is easier for him to not deal w/ travel, people, noise, etc. so he would opt to not go at all if given the choice.
I agree that managing the non-rider w/ DAS along with a group of riders (and LLs/ILLs) is a whole other level of complexity. The last time I juggled this was before Genie but they had switched to letting you add DAS ride at blue Guest Services umbrellas which was nice. Having it all our our phones now hopefully helps a bit w/ the complexity!
A general tip that I can share is to use the second MK Guest Services location back in Liberty Square. It reopened in January and is MUCH less crowded than the one at City Hall.
My 16yo ds has a host of diagnoses (ASD, anxiety, sensory challenges, etc) and for a very long time we just relied on FastPasses and very careful planning on my part (Child Swap was also a key to balancing ds’ needs w/ dd’s preference to ride everything). Most of that was when he was little. I think he visited WDW four times before he turned 6yo, and all of those visits were before he was diagnosed w/ anything. We just figured him out and knew he needed more time, no thrill rides, and he really didn’t like fireworks.
We didn’t travel much for about 5 years or so and then made up for it. We figured out quickly that his anxiety kicked in hard when flying. The sensory impact of the noise of the engine and how your tummy turns over as you take off apparently were now major issues.
I was talking to a friend that has a daughter a few years older than ds that has similar challenges and my friend recommended TSACares to help w/ security at the airport. Like many here, my first responses was that we didn’t need it. Ds could get through security okay and we didn’t want to take advantage. My friend was firm w/ me…pointing out that the program was there precisely for people like ds. Can he cope, yes …BUT the security process ramps up his anxiety and if he ever got “pulled” for more in depth screening…I would never get him on the plane afterwards.
I have taken this advice to heart. Just because my son can “mask” well and “deal” with the myriad of things around him, doesn’t mean that they aren’t impacting him, his enjoyment of the parks (in the case of DAS), and ergo the enjoyment my family has in the parks. The more stress and anxiety, the sooner he is going to hit his “wall” and we will have to leave for him to have down time. DAS allows him to reduce these things which allows him to stay longer, enjoy himself more, and we get to spend more time together as a family.
DAS really has been a godsend for us.
My DD10 has previously brought headphones to the parks for fireworks. Most everything else hasn’t bothered her from a a sensory perspective. Since our last trip, she has been diagnosed with anxiety and ADHD. While I would say both are minor/moderate, she is on medication. She has developed ticks since our last visit as well. When she gets anxious, excited or nervous she snorts really loudly and frequently.
I wouldn’t have thought of DAS but after reading this, I think it is perfect for us. You still ‘wait’ in line but can be doing things that keep her from being anxious.
We have DAS queued up for upcoming trip - DS4 has sensory challenges and we suspect possible anxiety. Our goal is to try not to use it, as we will also be using Genie Plus and ILL, and we would also like to have him get used to waiting in lines a bit. If lines do prove to be a challenge though for him, we have DIS in our back pockets to use.
As parents we know our kids. Some kids definitely need it, others might need it. I think our son falls into that category - We suspect he might need it but aren’t sure, and given his challenges we decided to go for it and use it if it seems needed.
We just got back from WDW a few weeks ago. While there my DS14 had difficulty with what we thought was vertigo or heat exhaustion/ stroke. We ended up in first aid for him to lay down for awhile our first day and also got a wheelchair for him since he was very shaky if he had to stand for long. Walking was okay after the first day but standing for long periods caused the issues. (My DH also used the wheelchair some when my DS wasn’t using it to help with his arthritic knees).
Since coming home we have discovered that the medication my DS takes for his ADHD has warning against heat, standing for long periods and dehydration. All of these things came into play before we ended up at first aid.
I am trying to figure out what the best option for us is going forward to help my DS avoid standing in the long lines, I have no problem getting him a wheelchair if that is the best solution but he really doesn’t have mobility issues (my DH does but not this child). He is a cross country runner so mobility is not the issue. He just can not stand in lines for more than 30 minutes without having low blood pressure symptoms (dizziness, weakness, nausea, tingling). Moving/ walking or sitting doesn’t cause this issue.
We used LL but not ILLs so we hit a few 45- 60 minute lines. These were a challenge so he sat in the wheelchair. Is the wheelchair the best option or would he qualify for a DAS? I
I think you could do either. He obviously qualifies for DAS but if it isn’t a burden to have a wheelchair in line that would work too. If he doesn’t need it for walking around the park someone could just push it empty (or with your stuff in it) between rides. I would suggest getting DAS and a wheelchair so you have the most options available. Just remember the wheelchair does not qualify for DAS the effects from his medication do.
My 13 year old daughter has Crohn’s. She could stand in line and suffer if she needs to use the bathroom but she didn’t have too because of the DAS pass. Honestly, before her diagnosis that is exactly what she did anywhere we were. She often would not say she was in pain or would wait till we got home. With the DAS pass she had the comfort of not being in a long line and the time to be able to use the bathroom. I was very grateful for the pass for her.
I’m glad you got it, that is the kind of situation it’s made for.
Your “essay” is a huge help. I may have some follow up questions. Our trip is in 6 days. Dear friend has the DAS-- she got it today— there were not many rides to pick from at this late day for pre selects.
So, as I said, more questions may be headed your way. Again, thank you!!!
Just finished getting DAS and selecting my pre-selected rides. It was a very painless process and took no time. I’m quite happy with my choices.
7/23 at MK:
Jungle Cruise @ 9:00 am
Pirates of the Caribbean @ 11:00 am
7/25 at HS:
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration @ 11:05 AM
7/26 at AK:
Na’vi River Journey @ 12:30
Kilimanjaro Safaris @ 1:30
I didn’t get to choose anything at Epcot, since I will be park hopping over there. Not that I’m too concerned. The only things I will want to ride there are LwtL and the Mexico ride.
Hey there~ Does anyone have a list of attractions at each park that you can choose from for preselection? Thank you~