Whenever we want to do something big and fun that typical kids get to do, it takes careful planning. We spend most of the time wondering if we’re crazy for making her do some of these things, and the rest of the time worrying that she’ll hate it. But we’re dedicated to making sure her childhood is no different than anyone else’s childhood. So, if it creates a little more stress for us, so be it.
One of her favorite radio stations is the Kidz Bop station. It’s current songs covered by kids. It’s not awful, it allows us to stay up to date with current music, and Maggie loves it. They started announcing upcoming concerts a few months ago and we knew we had to take her. But, Maggie doesn’t love crowds. Or loud music. She wouldn’t stay in her seat and she might melt down requiring us to leave, wasting whatever money tickets would be. The concert is late, past her bedtime, and if she’s too tired, too hot or too frustrated, she may experience some seizure activity. Plus the venue is outdoors in the sun. These are some of our worries for something as simple as a two hour show intended for kids.
We take it one step at a time. Before mentioning anything about it to Maggie, we research – the venue, the space, wondering what our options. As it turns out tickets are available for handicapped kids at a discounted rate. Though Maggie isn’t in a wheelchair, her push chair acts as one on intense outings, so we can make use of wheelchair seating. Taking a look at the map of the venue, there’s seats out of the way, back in the mezzanine, where volume is less likely to be a concern. Double check.
We started using ear plugs at crowded events, and that’s really helped mitigate her frustration, but even so, 1000 screaming children is at a decibel level that can pierce through almost anything and there’s only one real cure for Maggie in those situations – french fries. Looking at the menu from the venue, that’s on the list! Triple check. Maybe we can go to this after all!
We check the weather app – a perfect 70 degrees at the time of the show. OK fine! Let’s tell Maggie. For weeks we talk to her about it, explain to her what she should expect and every day it’s palpable how she’s getting more and more excited. We push her bedtime a little here and there so staying up late isn’t an issue. And concert day, what would you know, she could not stop screaming in joy.
It seems to us the key to a successful outing with a special needs kid – preparation. You have to prepare the kid for what’s about to happen, prepare with all the gear and adaptive equipment you might need, and prepare yourself that the kid might have the time of their life!
My birthday was a couple of weeks ago. My sister and her family came to visit – it was her birthday too. They wanted to go to California Adventure and Disneyland. This is not something we have cared to do with Magnolia, again.
The last time we went to Disney, was the day after Magnolia’s diagnosis. December 18,2013. It was a nightmare. Crowds, sensory overload, heat and waiting in long lines are all things that Magnolia doesn’t handle well. Even with Disney’s Disability pass, which helps ease some of the wait, it wasn’t an ideal situation. We were hoping Disney would cheer us up, but she ended up having such a bad time, we hadn’t been back. Until now.
After standing in a long line to buy tickets to get in, then standing in a long line to get in the gate, we headed over to stand in a short line at guest services to get the Disability pass. I was already uneasy, but I put on a brave face for Maggie. She, on the other hand, was so excited – her smile ear to ear.
We met up with Lynn, Sean, Lindsey and Sadie – they had been at the park for a few hours already, so they were ready to take it slower with us for awhile. We rode the Little Mermaid ride, then the swings, the parachutes and a few other rides. We rode on Maggie’s new favorite (and mine), the Cars ride. We even went and saw the Live show Frozen. Any of those kinds of shows have been hard to hold her attention – but she sat for an hour watching and bopping along to what essentially amounted to the Frozen soundtrack. Magnolia did great, there were a few meltdowns, and one small seizure, but it was hot and busy, so it was all to be expected. Even the seizure is something we’ve become so adept at handling that little ones barely phase me. But, still it was a lot and we decided at 4:30, we were done. It was a great day. I couldn’t believe how well she did.
The next day was Disneyland. Disneyland was so crowded, a cast member ended up telling me, it was one of the busiest days of the year. Perfect.
Maybe two days in a row at theme parks was too much for her – that first day went so well, we just assumed she’d be great. But she was overwhelmed, tired and hot. She melted down waiting to meet Tigger. So we ducked into an air conditioned store where she rejuvenated a little. We rode Splash Mountain, which she loved. She also loved the Jungle cruise ride. In between all the rides, though, it was hard for her, and ultimately, she had to leave earlier than she would have wanted on the second day. To minimize the sensory overload, we have her wear earplugs, and that really helps.
I’ll take this trip to Disneyland as a win. She wasn’t miserable and I think she’d like to go back. Maybe next time, we head to Disneyland first and not go to two parks in two days. Live and learn.
It was great to be with family, people that love Maggie and want her to have a great time. I think she will probably just remember this trip to Disneyland as fun. We probably could have ridden Splash Mountain the entire time and she’d have loved it.
California Adventure swings that go in a circle? She loved it.
California Adventure, walking with the cousins. She loved it.
Disneyland Splash Mountain. She loved it!
Disneyland Jungle cruise. loved it.