Monday, January 14, 2013

For the queue

To disgruntled person in Disney World line,

Standing in this line is difficult for you, isn't it? The crowds, and the noise, and the physical strain of standing in one place for a while can be overwhelming. Makes it hard to control your outbursts, doesn't it?

Now, I want you to think about that irritation you’re feeling. As I've said, it’s perfectly understandable. But I want you to think about it, really embrace it - and now I want you to imagine that you’re 5 years old. I bet waiting in this line just got even more trying for you, didn't it?

Now imagine you also have a sensory processing disorder. This means that every sensation is multiplied. Without on-going therapy, even simple sights and sounds that people usually enjoy can occasionally send you into a frenzy or render you catatonic. So imagine what happens with an overload of unpleasant stimuli.

Now I want you to imagine that you have Autism. Along with a list of stumbling blocks as long as my arm, this means communicating is especially challenging, if not impossible. It’s not your fault, but people can’t always read your mind and sometimes crying or throwing a tantrum is the only way you feel you can be understood. You don’t mean to hurt or annoy the people around you but you can’t talk and sometimes it’s just all too much. Your parents and other family and friends watch you very carefully, and try their hardest to maintain the balance of stimulus and rest so you can have something like a normal life experience. All you want to do is have fun at Disney World, because after all, you’re 5, but sometimes you need people to cut you a break.

Now you can be you again. Maybe this is a relief to you, maybe it’s not. But you get to choose. You can let the strain get to you, vent your aggravation on passersby. Or you can switch gears and choose to be happy in the “happiest place on earth.” Maybe take a cue from my special needs family and take a rest break if you’re feeling grumpy. It’s really all the same to me. I’ll continue to push or accommodate my children as I think best. It just might help you to remember, you’re not alone in the world - my son has certainly experienced frustration, just like you.

Best wishes,
Amy B.

A little note I composed after a little research into the Disney Guest Assistance Cards and the snide remarks some people have faced when using them. I guess this could really be handed out to any "snide remarker" in a line whether you were using a card or not. Just things I wish I could say to people who don't get it.


  1. I'm so glad (and proud) Disney offers this to our guests, and I agree and wish people could be more understanding of it. We actually had a seminar/class about autism and the use of these cards by autistic guests a few weeks ago. It was quite eye-opening, if only we could've gotten those snide-remarkers in there to listen...