Sunday, August 24, 2014

Experiencing Disney with an adult with Down Syndrome

Hello! I am a mother of two school aged boys. We'll be at WDW this fall doing our crazy-paced tour of rides and coasters. I am considering booking another trip for late 2015 with the intention of taking my husband's sister, a 37 year old woman who has Down Syndrome. She is fairly independent (volunteers once a week at the library, etc), but is definitely very slow moving, slow to process, sometimes nervous and easily overwhelmed. She LOVES Disney--the shows and music and characters and princesses. I don't see her being able to handle many rides-- just ones like Peter Pan, Finding Nemo, Small World, etc. She has never been to WDW, as my MIL is not a fan of touristy things at all and they live near Vancouver (I'm east coast), so I would like to make this happen for her while we can.

I think this kind of trip would necessitate leaving my kids at home with my husband, or, perhaps all of us going and then splitting up. I am wondering if anyone can offer advice or their experiences bringing adults with Down Sydrome to the Parks. It's a LOT of walking, and she is SLOW, a bit unsteady on her feet and overweight. She does ok walking the half mile to a bus stop, but I don't see her walking the park all day. Would you recommend special accomodations for someone with these particular limitations and abilities? I don't want her to be overwhelmed. Also, I'm so used to going from ride to ride, that I'm wondering if there's enough to do and see in the parks if we'd be skipping most rides. I've never taken care of her for days by myself, so it would be an adventure for both of us, but one I think I'm up to, especially because I know being there will light up her face.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
My 21 year old son has Down Syndrome. For us a wheelchair is a must. He cannot walk those kinds of distances at all. One time i had him leave the chair outside Space because it is too difficult to push up that ramp. As luck would have it, the moving walkway was out of service at the exit. By the time we got out, he was done for the day. Now I just make him walk the few inclines going in while I push the empty chair. We get some looks, but I don't care. It's the only way I can accommodate both of us.

A scooter would be even better if she could operate it safely. I know my son couldn't.
As far as attractions, there are some he doesn't like, but generally speaking his interests are about the same as a 10 year olds might be. He loves the characters and all of the shows, and many of the thrill rides. He won't get on ToT, EE, or Splash, and doesn't like RnR or BTMR. He does say he's outgrown IASWA. He LOVES Space, TT, Buzz Lightyear, TSMM, GMR, and MIssion Space. He loves Mickeys Philharmagic, the Indiana Jones show, and BATB. The cars stunt show is too loud for him. Studios is his favorite park, followed by MK, then Epcot. I pretty much have to drag him to AK, but he does love the Lion King show there.
His favorite thing of all?.....Eating at the resort food court, or someplace that has cheese fries (Cosmic Rays.)
You don't say old your kids are, but I'm betting you could all enjoy the same basic list of attractions. I usually go alone with DS, but I would take another adult in a heartbeat when I can....pushing the wheelchair is getting to exhausting, especially as he gets heavier and I get older.
thanks for all of your thoughts and replies. I do wonder about pushing a wheelchair myself all those days...We spend two weeks with her every summer when we visit, so I know her well, just never have been "in charge" of her, so to speak (as much as you can be in charge of anyone who is 37!). I do like the idea of a slower-paced trip, letting her decide what we should do, etc. I do hope I can make this happen--just still lots to think about and, luckily, lots of time to figure it all out.

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