Vacationing with a child with a disability

A bit off topic, but…

The only vacation our family takes is what has typically been a yearly excursion to Storyland in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  In large part, this is because they have always been wonderful to my son, who lives with autism.  They offer a “VIP Pass” (a nicer term for a Handicapped Pass), allowing him and the rest of our party to not wait in long lines for rides.  It allows him to not have meltdowns and anxiety, and gives my other children and I, along with my son, an equal opportunity to enjoy the park.

I posted about the VIP Pass on a Boston-area Parents email-list, touting its benefits.  Someone replied back that the pass was no longer in existence and the staff was awful to her child last year when they attempted to get one.

Surprised, and admittedly horrified, I called Storyland.  Not knowing what happened to the other mom and saying they were sorry for whatever had happened to her, I was competently informed that there has been no such change in policy and that the VIP Pass is still available to children with disabilities (including autism).  We obtained one without doing more than just asking.

So, yes, I am putting in a plug for this destination which allows children with disabilities, and their families, to have a wonderful experience and make happy memories!

To those of you who complain (to staff or to me directly, under your breath) about families like mine “cutting in line”, I  can only offer the old adage that you don’t know what it is like to walk in another’s shoes.  And, really, do you want to see my 145 pound kid have a 15 minute, likely intense and traumatic meltdown over waiting to ride the beloved antique cars?  I didn’t think so.

As well, I want to share that the staff and management at the Fox Ridge Resort specifically could not have been kinder or more accommodating to my son, and ultimately to our family.  Thank you, Fox Ridge, for giving us a place where we can vacation and where my entire family feels welcome.  To this mom, and long-time, firm believer that people with disabilities deserve equal access, these acts of kindness are deeply appreciated and will not be forgotten.

And to all of you reading this who, like me, couldn’t take their child with autism out in public without a struggle, more or less on vacation, for many years even, and were traumatized by bad experiences,  I offer it can get better.  For us, it took a lot of patience and the willingness to be upfront and have possibly uncomfortable, honest discussions about what your child needs.  If you partner with the folks who can help you create a positive and acceptable experience for your family, you might well be able to define and execute a very happy vacation .  Be well.

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