A Disney-sized Hiccup.

This is our son Mighty.  

He’s a typical almost 4-year-old boy.  He loves all things transportation and adores building things.  He’s pretty good at it too.  He’s also really smart.  For example, yesterday at the Lego Store in Downtown Disney, he couldn’t reach the Lego table, so he told his sister to get out of the stroller so he could roll it over and stand on it.  

He gets it done when he needs to.  Most of the time.  Sometimes though, he can’t do it himself.  He may need an accommodation or two.  

Some of you may have seen my FB plea yesterday for help navigating the Disney bureaucracy to find a person who could help me with Disability Services.  That’s because when we went into EPCOT the day prior and asked for some accommodations that would make things easier for Mighty, things would in no way get him to the front of the line, or impact any park goers in any way, we were treated with some major disrespect.  I asked about a Guest Assistance Card and I actually had a Cast Member look at Mighty and ask “What’s wrong with him?” The answer is nothing.  There is nothing wrong with my son.  

What I wanted to tell the man at Guest Services was this…

1.  Stop being such a complete ass hat.  You are rude.  But, that’s beside the point.    

2.  I have a son who looks different.  I don’t consider him disabled necessarily, but he can’t ride most of the rides I’ve already paid for. That is what it is.  We will teach him to accept that.  He’ll be sad, I’m sure.  But it’s our hope, that eventually, he will love who he is and enjoy the Disney parks for the time he gets to spend with his family.  

Here’s the deal though, I’ve seen the commercials.  This place that we’re vacationing is supposed to be magical…for all kids.  There are small accommodations that could be made to help Mighty have the time of his life.  It would be helpful if he fatigues that we could sit down in line.  If that’s a liability, and I understand why it is, we would like to leave the line and come back when it’s his turn.  This isn’t our idea.  It’s done all the time for children with Autism.  Mobility issues don’t qualify a child for this assistance.  The answer to this was to tell me to 1. stick him in a stroller and use it as a wheelchair or 2. stick him in a wheelchair.  With these options I can push him to the front of the line.

Right now, using the stroller as a wheelchair isn’t a problem.  He doesn’t get that he’s slightly too old for this, so we went with it.  Later though, when he’s say, 10-years old, and still roughly the size of a 3-4 year old, this will be hard.  Right now though, in this moment, he falls a lot and cries when he has to stand too much.  

I want a Guest Assistance Card.  It’s there to assist guests.

The answer…no.  Dwarfism is not a medical need that is on the “list” of approved conditions that qualify for this card.  

Within that list, and I saw it, there are about one thousand degrees of severity within those conditions.  One person with Type 1 Diabetes may need no accommodations, another may need a lot.  

This isn’t a black and white issue.  

Please give me a Guest Assistance Card.

I was then asked if my son has a cognitive disability and questioned about why he doesn’t speak.  I think I was asked this because having a cognitive disability is within the parameters for getting a Guest Assistance Card.  My son doesn’t have a cognitive disability.  I told the Cast Member he is little.  His legs are little.  He takes 2-3 times as many steps to move as far as the average person.  

The answer…”being short is not a disability.”  

Ouch.  We were obviously at an impasse.  I left angry and hurt at the way my son was treated.  Why does one disability get allowances and not another?  I have a daughter with Aspergers Disorder.  She would qualify for a Guest Assistance Card.  She doesn’t need accommodations, so I refuse to sign the card out in her name.  I have a child with 2/3s of a heart.  She also doesn’t need accommodations.  I have another child that does.  He may not next year.  He did this year.

The whole system is ridiculous.  When you have a parent standing in front of you asking you to do some very small things to help their child enjoy a time that is supposed to be magical, do you really need to spit in their eye and remind them over and over that their child is different?  Then, do you need to argue with them about what’s right in front of your eyes?    

That’s not magical.  In fact, it’s disrespectful.

That’s the feedback I gave.  Loudly.  I understand that people have abused this system in the past, but then don’t offer it at all and call it what it is, an inability to provide any accommodations for guests who need them.  Do it, or don’t, but don’t do it for some and not for others.  

Don’t force my son into a wheelchair so that people can “see his need.”  He doesn’t need to be labeled any more than he is.  And, I’m going to spend a good portion of his life, and mine, trying to keep him out of a wheelchair.  

I did finally make it through to someone who helped us with a tag that allows us to bring our stroller through all the lines.  We were also compensated for our rotten day.  This made it alright for now.  It will still be hard later.  So, I’m not done.  Some sensitivity training and education needs to happen.  We’re working on that.  

who doesn’t take a vacation from advocacy.  

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