Posted in Uncategorized

A Better World

We live in a better world. We are, more than ever before, more conscious of, and more accepting of differences in physical ability, race, ethnicity, and gender identity.

We have made great strides, and there is great hope for the future to create a world where we can be free to live harmoniously, and respectful of the way people choose to live, and portray themselves – I am very hopeful about this.

And yet, there is still an ugly undercurrent of people who portray themselves one way in public, and another, where they feel the most comfortable, and/or anonymous, remaining insensitive to how their actions will be perceived by those most vulnerable in society.

The road to a society with a more dignified language began with the United Nations, in December 1948, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the dignity of all human beings.

Article 1:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Article 2:

”Without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property birth or other status.”

And yet, we still have preconceived notions, and quite often mock why someone who “appears typical” is in an electric conveyance vehicle, or why someone can physically get out of a car who is parked in an accessible parking spot, or why that person this, or that person that.

This United Nations declaration was prompted by the dehumanizing events of the Second World War, which prompted initiatives to avoid denigrating and hurtful actions and language.

So why are people still using the words, “idiot, retard, demented, lame, dumb, moron, stupid”?

If we have made such strides to be more inclusive, accepting, and accommodating to race, ethnicity, and gender identity, why are we still lagging in the use of certain terminology which is dehumanizing, and exclusionary to a vulnerable population with physical limitations.

We must all make a concerted effort to eradicate the practice of ableism which characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled.

I was blessed with having a neuro-typical capacity, and functioning limbs, but my son, and many of my friends were not, to put it bluntly, and I won’t stand by silently while others make assumptions and/or mockery.

Recently, on a social media platform, a few individuals used flagrant dehumanizing language and posted photos of people needing an accommodation, and it’s heartbreaking to see such duplicity, and discouraging to see that in order to make themselves seem “cool” they had to target a vulnerable population.

In essence, I feel great pathos for those who chastize, and condemn, because I feel, they are in great pain, and this is the only outlet for them to be recognized and accepted.

On the other hand, we must all make an effort to filter what we say, and what we act on because it will affect others one way or another.

Ableism, it needs careful consideration.

49

Posted in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World Resort, MagicBands, Walt Disney World, Disney Parks Moms Panel, Disney

There’s Something Unique About the Disney Parks & Resorts & Destinations

I remember our very first visit to Walt Disney World Resort back in 1998, with my then, four-year-old daughter. It was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list vacation where we would make and capture our special memories as the fairytales and Disney characters came alive. Little did we know, that these types of vacations would quickly embed themselves into our life.

What kept us coming back?

The unique and ever-evolving events, experiences, and attractions. The multitude of Disney Resort Hotels that offered unique theming at every price-point. The personalized experiences, and treatment. The inclusion, especially with our special needs son — no person is left behind from enjoying themselves fully.

In theme parks that could accommodate over 50,000 people on a given day, we were made to feel as if the theme park belonged to us, as if we were the only guests visiting that day.

Disney employees, lovingly referred to as Cast Members, are everywhere, you can easily spot them, and they’re always approachable, helpful, very friendly, and accommodating. It matters not what your needs are, they are always there to help, in a sincere manner. The services provided by the Walt Disney World Resort Guest Experience Team is like no other. They’ll assist with anything from personalizing a complimentary special occasion button, all the way to helping with a lost item. And believe me, when I say that they try, they do. My cousin accidentally left her sunglasses on an attraction, and before she knew it, the sunglasses were found amidst a sea of sunglasses, and magically shipped home.

Disney Cast Members strive to afford all guests an exceptional experience, which stems from Disney’s “Four Keys” – in priority being; Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. Each ‘Key’ is important and plays a part with the rest to ensure incredible guest experiences.

The conveniences are like no other. Where else can you vacation and be fully entertained? Who else will provide complimentary return shuttle service from Orlando International Airport? Or, complimentary MagicBands, an all in one device that contains theme park ticket admission, attraction, and dining reservations, unlocks your Disney Resort Hotel Guest Room door, and even enables charges to your Disney Resort Hotel Guest Room account. Where else do you not see your luggage until your arrival in your Guest Room? Where else can you be transported around 47 square miles of theme and water parks, and shopping via bus, ferryboat, Monorail, and gondola? Where else can you push a button and magical fireworks will twinkle on your headboard anytime you wish?

There’s something about all of this. A pull, like no place else. It’s the way we are treated. It’s about how we forget about all our troubles and enter a world where it’s all about fun stuff, and yummy stuff, and stories coming alive, and making new friends, and seeing old ones — especially the many Cast Members, who are like family now.

It’s because Disney cares.

It’s about exceptional customer service.

That’s why.

Posted in Atttitude, Autism, Life, Special Needs

A Rough Day

In the wake of needing to fulfil a basic human need, my son was subjected to public degradation, not once, not twice, but three times in a span of 20-minutes.

My son is a young man, afflicted with autism. His cognition is that of a toddler. His skills are improving, his speech is improving, he is not reciprocal with his language, but he understands. He understands everything. He is sensitive to people’s feelings and to their expressions.

Last week, he was made to feel like a piece of trash.

“Get out, you don’t belong here, you’re a man.” This is what the public restroom attendant told us both, as I was waiting with my son for a Handicapped stall in the female restroom.

I described my son’s condition to the attendant in front of others and that he requires assistance with toileting, I explained that we tried to wait for the one and only Family Restroom for a reasonable amount of time, but when my son expressed behaviours of urgency I had no choice but to enter the female restroom. She was unyielding. She maintained that he “could have waited for the Family Restroom and that he had to leave.”

When I was assisting my son with hand-washing, the attendant was still there reprimanding me and telling us that he doesn’t belong in the female washroom because he is a man. When we left the female washroom, the attendant followed us out and continued her reprimands. At that point, I could feel my anxiety rising and I chose to leave because I didn’t want my son to become even more upset. Curiously enough, the Family Restroom was still occupied. Twenty or so minutes had elapsed from the time we tried to use that restroom. Did the restroom attendant seriously expect my son to wait that long? Is that reasonable? Is it up to her who uses the restrooms? Is that in her job description?

What if my son was neuro-typical and in the process of a gender change not yet entirely complete, and his physical appearance was still that of a male, but he identified himself as a female? What then?

How can this person act this way?

I have since contacted my local Human Rights Tribunal and I have opened a file against the property managing company that owns this mall. I contacted the property managing company and expressed our experience and I was promised that by the end of September 2019, more Family Restrooms and a Universal Restroom would be in place, to accommodate all people. I was also informed that sensitivity training had already commenced for this particular restroom attendant and all others contracted out by that third party.

Update:

The local mall is almost finished completing the installation of three “Universal Washrooms” and one more “Family Restroom” (in addition to the original Family Restroom).

Success! Andrew’s challenging experience paved the way for better experiences for many people.

 

Posted in Autism, Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks, Uncategorized

Disney Cast Members

Recently, a poignant story came out about an autistic boy’s positive experience with a Disney Character at Walt Disney World Resort. I must admit, this is not a unique experience amongst guests with special needs at “The Place Where Dreams Come True”. It’s commonplace, as Disney continually strives to afford all guests as enjoyable, enriching, and as inclusive a vacation experience as possible — and to this very day, I can honestly say that every single Disney vacation holds a unique and special moment, and compassionate accommodations for our son that ensured he had a magical visit.

So, this is why…

  • to Winnie-the-Pooh who was easy-going about Andrew nuzzling against his snout…
  • to Buzz Lightyear who captured and maintained Andrew’s attention in mere seconds…
  • to Simo, our delightful server at ‘Ohana who knows exactly what to bring Andrew and when…
  • to Eeyore who lets Andrew pull off his tail and thanks him for noticing…
  • to the Guest Relations Cast Member who nods with understanding with no further explanation…
  • to Donald Duck for not losing his feathers when Andrew stepped on his big, yellow webbed feet…
  • to Cinderella for her feather-light embrace and the first girl that Andrew smiled at…
  • to Mickey Mouse for noticing Andrew’s shyness and for stepping out of the tent to tickle Andrew’s feet and make him giggle…
  • to the countless Cast Members for making us feel like a ‘normal’ family…
  • to the Cast Member who spotted us on the Monorail platform and who came over with Mickey Mouse stickers and a set of FastPasses…
  • to the place where Andrew told me he loved me and gave me a peck on the cheek for the first and only time in 2012…

Great customer service with The Walt Disney Company stems from their  “Four Keys”, which guarantee exceptional Guest experience – Safety, Courtesy, Show and Experience!

They’ve unlocked the magic when it comes to customer service.

50

Posted in Attitude, Autism, Decluttering, Disney, Jackie's Adventures, Life

FREE At Last!

The biggest mistake I ever made was the ‘art of collecting’ and storing things in boxes when I first got married. I actually thought I was demonstrating organization. Everything was important, everything mattered and everything was tied to a special memory – even the tiniest piece of paper filled with doodles opened a flood of memories while learning about Louis Leakey in university.

I was the person, who as a kid, felt sorry for any kind of candy wrapper, or scrap of paper and who would stuff the wrapper in a box, between pages in a book, or a coat pocket. I felt sorry for a piece of paper and what would become of it, so imagine my anxiety when recycling programs came about and the great relief of the emergence of fancy storage boxes.

I saved everything. Even receipts from our meals at Disney. I’m not kidding. It was, after all, a great example of explaining how to keep track of Disney Dining Plan Meal Credits, which, at the time was really important.

But, at some point, after the move to our second home, after our kids began to get older, there was a shift, and all those boxes of ‘things’ began to cause me great grief. I would think of the closets, and the piles of books and papers and bags of memorabilia which I just HAD TO HAVE at the time, but would now send me into a panic. My closets were filled, organized, but filled and sadly, excessive.

But, there was a problem, I was physically exhausted from being up most of the night with my son and his nighttime behaviours for fifteen years. Fifteen years of walking around like a zombie during the day, trying to catch a wink here and there, fifteen years of struggling with my weight and mobility and yo yo diets which left me anemic and unhealthy. The struggle was real and the motivation at an all time low. I just had no energy, so all I did, was to focus on what I loved to do, something that fed my soul and boosted my moral. For me, that was anything related to Disney. And then came the internet and chat rooms and social media and cyber-friends and the distraction was massive and it took me away from my task at hand and made and continues to make me very happy.

Over the next few years, we would attempt to clear ‘the piles’, but stuff still had a way of creeping into the house- well I was the one who brought it all in, I’ll take the onus.

I would bag stuff, I would donate it, I would run things over to schools and shelters, but that wasn’t enough and those donations did not even make a dent in the clutter that lurked around my home and that kept coming in. This was all I began to talk about with family and friends, even more so than my chatter about Disney and this is when I knew this was a huge problem that had to be dealt with.

Something else had to happen. I wasn’t getting very far stuffing bag upon bag for donation. My biggest problem, was that there were items that couldn’t be stuffed into a bag, such as thick binders and books and papers and frames and you name it. So, I decided to rent a residential bin and to set a time limit. This, for me, was the only way to get anything done because I paid for the bin and didn’t want to send it back empty.

So there it sat for ten days and with each purge, I felt a release. With each toss, I felt a sense of freedom and more importantly control. As the house began to open up, I felt a growing momentum to let go of all those things which were burdens and as I did, I felt more free and strong. When they came to pick up the bin, I actually felt a pang of panic because of not having the luxury of being able to toss something out so easily.

This had a huge impact on me and I vow, that, because of the immeasurable anxiety the clutter and junk had on me, I vow, to never bring in another item on a whim. I vow to let go of something when I do bring in another item, no matter what. Otherwise, I’ll be in this same position before I know it, and I cannot and will not live like that!

I don’t need knick knacks, I don’t need new pots, or pans, or coffee makers, or irons, or things to stuff in bowls, or containers filled with sand or shells, or even testimonial mugs – I have many, many mugs. Years ago, I paid good money for a few cooking pots and small appliances and they’ll do their magic until their end. I won’t visit those home stores which will tempt me to buy this or that, I don’t need anything. What I have serves its purpose and I’ll never be able to make my house look like the pages of a magazine, or what have you. I’d rather save my money for what truly makes me happy, and that’s travel, experiences and making memories.

Now, I love my empty corners, tabletops and shelves because they give me a sense of peace and make me feel in control. Best of all, dusting is a breeze.

That’s what works for me.

The 20 yard residential bin rental was from “Bin There Dump That” which I thought was at a very reasonable cost, and I highly recommend this company. For me there was no other way.

I hope you remove the clutter from your life, because it’s very liberating and empowering.  And now, I can proudly state that my household ‘To Do List’ for 2018 is finished. For the FIRST time in forever, I don’t have that nagging feeling that I have to do this or that, and I can now focus on my daily and weekly tasks at hand.

I can’t express how great that feels.