Debbie, Disney, and Autism

We took a trip to Disney World this past week.  Although we are exhausted, we had an amazing time!  We started off at Islands of Adventure.  This park, along with Universal Studios, was more Joey’s speed than Debbie’s.  But, I must give credit where credit is due. Debbie walked around on Monday severely constipated.  She had soiled underwear because, ahem, I forgot to bring extra pairs.  We got caught in a downpour and while she was annoyed, she waited it out with the rest of us.  So, here this child is walking around a theme park.  Her underwear was dirty.  She was wet.  She was tired and uncomfortable. And yet, she went with it. She had a few minor tantrums but considering the circumstances, she was a real trooper. I, personally, would have melted down under less stressful circumstances and she held it together.  Thankfully, on Monday night, she passed what she needed to pass.

On Tuesday, we headed to Universal Studios.  This time, I was prepared with back-up underpants, which, fortunately, turned out to be unnecessary.  There were more smiles and there was more fun to be had. We went on lots of 4-D rides and, although Deb would say, “No,” at first, she would go on anyway.  We were able to convince Deb to take off the special glasses so she could see the ride was just pretend.  This helped her immensely! Even though there were times she would grip Vince for dear life, she smiled and laughed throughout both the Transformers and Simpsons rides.  In addition to the illusions of things coming at you and being sprayed with water and air, both of these rides are bumpy, loud, and move really, really fast.  Girlfriend, once again, did all of it without one meltdown.  Our day at Universal was made even better when we met Kimmie.

Kimmie was handling Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob in Springfield.  Well, more than anything else, Debbie LOVES characters. So when she saw Krusty and Bob, she ran passed everyone in line to get her turn.  Kimmie saw Debbie and immediately recognized Debbie’s Autism because she too has a son who has Autism.  Kimmie gently guided Deb away from the characters and asked us to wait on the side.  After all the guests had their turns, Kimmie took us to a backstage area where we were able to have an extended visit with Krusty and Bob.  Deb was over the moon with delight!  Kimmie then proceeded to take us up to the front of The Simpsons ride so that we did not have to wait in the line.  Kimmie, if you are reading this, Vince and I thank you and sincerely appreciate your kindness, patience, and generosity!

Wednesday, the day Debbie had been waiting for all week, finally came!  We spent the day at Magic Kingdom!  I love Magic Kingdom.  It’s a timeless place that never changes but does change at the same time.  Debbie went on everything except for Space Mountain.  We had a wonderful time meeting The Mouse himself, and during dinner, Deb received hugs from her favorites: Tigger and Pooh!  We closed the day with ice cream and a fireworks display that only Disney can produce!  An all-in-all exciting and fun day!

Our last park was Epcot. Why Epcot instead of Hollywood Studios? Because there are many cool hands-on learning activities for both kids and the teacher in me could not pass up on that opportunity! We designed cars and test drove them.  Joey and I engineered a roller coaster and then rode in a simulator that had us “riding” our coaster!  STEM education at it’s finest!  We also went under the sea with Nemo and learned about underwater animals.  Last, we explored Mexico, Norway, and China. In China, Debbie tried and ate Chinese style chicken, with Ketchup of course! It rained a lot during our visit to Epcot but we didn’t let it stop us from having a good time.

On Friday we began the long journey back north.  We took two days to get to Florida and two days to get home.  We spent roughly 28 hours of our trip in the car. A long haul for anyone. However, both kids are phenomenal travelers.  And while, Deb had her moments, she never once melted down!!!  She used a lot of language.  She was flexible.  She persevered.  Most important, both Joey and Debbie had a fantastic and memorable trip.  It doesn’t get much better than this!




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