We have just gotten home from a wonderful trip to Southern California, which included our boys' first visit to Disneyland. While there we made the decision to take advantage of the disability passes that Disney offers for rides. These passes allow the family to enter attractions from the exit area and bring in wheelchairs or other needed devices. The lines therefore are short or non-existent. We debated about this feature because of the fact that our children's needs are mild. It is especially tricky with Benjamin, as he has no actual physical disability but rather a mental state if you will that makes things such as standing in line in crowds very challenging. I was anticipating dirty looks and nasty comments from other park-goers, who could assume we were just impatient people with whiny children trying to cheat the system.
As it turned out, Joshua had some regression in his walking on the trip and was stumbling all over to the point that I felt relieved to have some special assistance. It was a good idea to be in shorter lines and be able to bring his stroller in to the attractions to give his legs a rest. But even if that had not been the case, I realized there was no reason to feel bad about avoiding waiting in extremely long lines with the masses.
The thing is, we spend our lives waiting. We wait for doctors to call back. We wait for answers. We wait in lobbies of therapy offices. We wait to talk to teachers about special issues. We wait for milestones that never come soon enough. We wait at the emergency room. My typical child waits while I help my autistic child through a tantrum or assist my two year old with eating. We wait for the next bomb to drop.
At Disneyland I felt like it was one nice day of normal for us. And yes, I felt like we got some deserved special treatment. There were actually a few times that park employees were so nice I wanted to cry. After a year of hard work and a lot of build-up for this vacation, finally someone was taking care of us to assure that our day went smoothly. All of my children were smiling. We got to go on many rides in a short amount of time. No one melted down. It was a dream come true, just like a Disney vacation should be.
So if you are at Disneyland or a similar park sometime and want to glare at the families in the short lines or say unkind things under your breath, think twice. Yes, there will always be some who take advantage of the passes, but most people are kind and honest, and just because you do not see an obvious disability in someone does not mean it is not there. Before you think how "lucky" they are, consider how trying their lives may be on a day to day basis. While you go home to normalcy, they go home to more tests, more appointments and more overwhelming stress.
Thank you Disneyland for a beautiful experience.