Stop Using the Word Vaccine So Loosely

Vaccines, I am finally ready to share my view. Twenty years ago autism rates were 1:10,000; in 2013 rates were 1:50. Folks, that is an epidemic proportion rate.
I believe in vaccines, they are necessary and I still continue to vaccinate my fifteen year old autistic son. What I don’t believe in are preservatives in some vaccines. While there are laws in some countries saying they’ve been removed, other countries don’t follow suit.
Thiomerisol (Thimerisol), an organomercury compound, reeked havoc with my son. I know what I saw hours after his inoculation; it’s a decline and loss I want no other parent to experience. I will not have the luxury of dying in peace; I have to live with that, my tough luck. Others have it worse than I do, I am acutely aware of that. By the way, organomercury compounds are found in antiseptics and are anti fungal agents. Nice. Not!
Here’s what I want in my perfect world. Ask your doctor to see what’s in the vaccine by checking the label on the box it came out of (stored hopefully in a refrigerator, not on a shelf)…but read the label on the box. Most of us read for GMO’s, calories and fat content on our food labels and everything organic, right? So ask to read that label on that little box, equipped with your list of demon preservatives to look out for. Or, specify that you want to pay extra for a fresh vial, free of preservatives. They’ll order it. They do when I ask.
Finally, I want each disease vaccine to be in its’ own vial, not in a mix or ‘cocktail’. That is a money saving measure. I’ll take my Mumps shot separate from my Measles shot separate from my Rubella shot and flood myself with water before and after while completely avoiding pain medication prior to inoculation (there is information regarding the mix of pain/fever reducers in conjunction with MMR’s). I’ll also spread those shots months apart. Why do they need to be together? Do they work better if combined? Oh right, money saving measures…right.
So that’s it. I’m not debating this, and I’m telling you this because I will not respond to comments otherwise. This is my opinion I will not change my mind. I know what I saw happening to my son after the mercury strolled through his little, vulnerable body. It was NOT the vaccine, no, it was the preservative in the vaccine. Damb them!
So, read your labels and while you’re doing that, stay away from Parabens, those culprits found in lotions and creams and make-up. They’re bad, bad news….and Triclosan, the thyroids worst enemy.
So while I’m saying that vaccines do not cause autism, something in the vaccine DOES TRIGGER an immune response….what is in there that’s triggering this response? I am sure there are many medical professionals out there that know the truth or at the very least have suspicions about agents in vaccines triggering autism and one of them needs to please come forth, show some integrity and give families like mine some closure.
To this day, I have seen no hard evidence to support the dramatic and rapid rise in the incidence of autism. Hard evidence on both sides, comparative studies, population samples, anything, solid across the board proven evidence by independent companies with no vested interest in losing a lot of money.
I also wish the media would stop using the word ‘vaccine’ so generically and loosely, it’s an unfair usage of the word, when they should instead hone in on finding which agents in the vaccine trigger the response causing autism.
Now, I’ll think about my kids and Disney, it’s the only way out of my pity party. One foot in front of the other and looking up, that’s where I’m going.


Special Needs Guests and Disney Cruise Line

Travelling with a special needs family member involves many considerations to ensure a safe and positive experience. The amount of forethought and extra planning to meet unique needs can be daunting, therefore, it is helpful to know that travelling with a reputable company will ensure a most positive and memorable experience. That company for us is the Walt Disney Company and in particular Disney Cruise Line.

Having completed eight Disney cruises on all four ships in the fleet, through Eastern, Western and Bahamian itineraries, we felt equipped to embark on our first Mediterranean adventure aboard the first ship in the fleet, the Disney Magic.

The peace of mind, the exemplary service and standards, the entertainment and organization is like no other. Guests needs are always and consistently anticipated and no passenger is overlooked. Disney Cruise Line takes great strides to provide an inclusive experience for all guests, regardless of ability.

When booking, the importance lies in finding a travel agent who has actually sailed the fleet. First hand experience is paramount as without it, some details might be overlooked and it might be those details that might make the biggest difference.

What works for us is booking directly with the Disney Cruise Line because once you make your situation known to them, it’s noted in your file and will not be overlooked. Furthermore, guests are asked to fill out a Special Services Information Form retrieved online through their website, highlighting specific concerns so that they will be accommodated.

Stateroom Selection and Accessible Staterooms

Selecting a stateroom is vital for parents of special needs children to ensure peace of mind and safety. For parents of children who pose a flight risk, an ocean view or inside stateroom would be the best choice. Many inside staterooms aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy offer the ‘Magical Porthole Windows’ which offer real-time feed from the exterior of the ship. This large LCD screen in the shape and look of a porthole window gives the illusion of an ocean view. The interior staterooms aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder have large porthole-like mirrors offering a feeling of depth perception.

The Magical Porthole Window below on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

Magical Porthole7


Parents who do not have flight risk concerns, may find some rejuvenation and relaxation in a stateroom with a verandah. The verandah may serve as a restful spot for  parents while their child rests in the stateroom. The verandahs are safely enclosed, with high, solid glass railings. Some near aft are solid steel, called the Navigator’s Verandahs.

Most Disney Cruise Line staterooms offer the split bath configuration. One room has a tub/shower and a sink, the second room has a toilet and sink. This set up allows two people the ease of getting ready.

Staterooms are also a great place to enjoy a slower paced and quieter meal when times in the dining room might be too stimulating. It’s best to let the Head Server know of this preference and meals will be delivered to the stateroom. As well, many of the quick service poolside eateries are open which offer food that can be taken to the stateroom to be eaten. Room Service is available and the menu list quite good. Guests in Concierge have an expanded Room Service menu available to them.

Accessible staterooms and suites are offered in great number throughout various locations on all four ships. All accessible staterooms and suites must be requested at booking to ensure access.

Such staterooms are equipped with ramped bathroom thresholds, open bed frames, 32″ minimum doorways, additional phones in the bathroom and on the nightstand, bathrooms have handrails at the toilet and shower, fold-down shower seats, hand held shower heads and emergency call buttons.

These staterooms support the use of Special Equipment which are available upon request which include bed boards, bedrails, portable toilets, refrigerator for medications, transfer bench, shower stool and Stateroom Communication Kits. Stateroom Communication Kits contain phone alerts, door knocks, phone amplifiers, bed shaker notification, strobe light smoke detector and a Text Typewriter TTY.

Wheelchair accessible staterooms are available and if mobility equipment does not fit in staterooms there are designated areas with electrical outlets. Parking for such equipment is located on deck six mid-ship on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder and on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy the location is deck two mid-ship, outside Enchanted Garden dining room.

Hearing Disabilities

Disney Cruise Line offers a number of provisions to provide an inclusive and enjoyable experience for all guests.

Guests must request open captioning on the television set by contacting Disney Cruise Line Special Services prior to sailing or Guest Services once onboard the ship. Common areas on the ships offer common video monitors with captions provided the sources of television signals are operating properly.

Stateroom Communication Kits, discussed above, are also available upon request at the time of booking or through Guest Services once onboard. Guest Assistance Packets are also available upon request through Guest Services which contain show scripts.

The Walt Disney Theatre on all four ships has two sign language interpreters supporting all shows. They are positioned at the stage front right from the audience perspective.

Children With Special Needs

The Youth Clubs are exciting and offer activities and programs to potty trained children aged 3-17,  who are able to interact easily with peers and counsellors. Although no guarantees are made for children who require 1:1 assistance, Disney Cruise Line does try to accommodate special needs children in modified programs based on staff availability. This once again is not guaranteed. It is advisable to contact the Special Services Coordinator at (407) 566-3500 and download  the Special Services Information Form, readily available on the Disney Cruise Line website. My personal experience with modified programs and/or Youth Club Counsellor interaction has always been positive. Many counsellors have special training and are able to interact smoothly with special needs children.

The Special Services Information Form deals specifically with dietary request information and policy, sharps boxes for medications, wheelchair accessible stateroom requests, communication kits for passengers with hearing impairments, service animal needing to travel with guests and arranging for wheelchair access and lifts. This form is easily accessible through the Disney Cruise Line website and instructions on how to deal with the form is also available there.

The Youth Clubs have frequent open house sessions which are good opportunities for parents to accompany their children, giving them the opportunity to acclimate to the environment, staff and other children. Youth Club Counsellors have always made an effort to interact with my son and engage him where possible and have allowed him to participate in modified activities. This is something I requested from the staff at the beginning of the cruise.

My son, who enjoys his independence benefited greatly from the individual Pod Stations which look like large portholes with cushioned seating and have listening stations and video monitors. These pods are located at Vibe aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

Special Seating and Access in Public Areas

All ships are wheelchair accessible, providing elevators, ramps, special entrances and designated areas for ease and comfort. The Walt Disney Theatre has designated wheelchair seating for guests and their travel party. All dining rooms, lounges, common areas and restrooms have ramped entrances leading to designated areas for people in wheelchairs. Cast Members are readily available to assist and are very friendly and accommodating. Arriving a little bit early is also a good idea, allowing guests the ease of getting ready before the crowds arrive.

Disney’s Castaway Cay

Most itineraries include a stop at Disney’s Castaway Cay, their private island in the Bahamas dedicated to guests only. The island has a Family Beach and an adult only beach called Serenity Bay. Guests have access to complimentary beach loungers, chairs under a large umbrella, many port adventures (fee applies), a complimentary beach BBQ. Teens have their own area, away from the beach filled with activities, called Hide-Out and children have their own activity filled area called, Scuttle’s Cove. Both the teen and children’s areas are supervised at all times and are complimentary. Modified programming may be offered to special needs children depending on staffing. No guarantees are made.

A great convenience for guests is that the Disney Cruise Line ships dock at the island, requiring no tendering.

An open-air Tram, which accommodates strollers and wheelchairs picks guests up near the ship and transports them to the beaches. Pathways, for those wishing to walk are all paved and flanked by lush, tropical plants. All walkways, excluding the beach, are paved.

Special needs guests have access to all public areas, including the beach. People needing wheelchairs have the use of special beach wheelchairs which are complimentary. The island offers also offers accessible restrooms.

We love renting private Cabanas on the Family Beach; they are also available on Serenity Bay (adult only beach). The Cabanas are open-air structures with a living room equipped with a mini-fridge stocked with water bottles, soda in cans and fresh fruit. Dry snacks such as peanut free granola bars and potato chips are also offered. Wet cloths for wiping sandy faces and hands are also on hand. A Cast Member is available with the ring of a buzzer to replenish snacks, water bottles and soda. As well, they can give you  ride to the restroom and BBQ. Accessible Cabanas are available on both the Family Beach and Serenity Bay (adult only beach), near the entrance of both areas, close to amenities.

The Cabanas also have covered porches with two padded loungers and padded bench, a basket with sunscreen and magazines. Beyond the porch is an open-air shower and hammock. Bicycles and snorkel equipment are included but must be requested.

In front of the Cabana there is a private strip of beach with the use of all floatation toys, two loungers, two chairs and umbrella.

For us, renting a Cabana allowed our son to have respite from the heat and the sun giving us an opportunity to fully enjoy our day at Disney’s Castaway Cay. Well worth the money.

Peter Cabana

Cabana Psarianos

My Son’s Confidence Soared Sailing the Mediterranean With Disney Cruise Line

After having sailed eight Disney cruises on all four ships in the fleet, we felt ready to head over and explore Europe with the peace of mind and comfort offered by the cruise line. Always keeping my Autistic son in mind and the consistency that he needs, it was only Disney Cruise Line for us. Andrew knows all the ships and can take you from bow to aft in a flash, with great ease and certainty, while stopping for some soft serve ice-cream along the way. The staterooms are consistent in appearance and layout on all the ships, the decor comfortingly similar with unique flourishes and dining rooms all familiar and captivating. These are the considerations that keep us sailing with Disney Cruise Line. If Andrew is at peace, then we relax and focus on memory making. Disney Cruise Line creates a safe and secure environment which fosters growth for our son. Both my children have grown up sailing with Disney Cruise Line and celebrated eight of their actual birthdays onboard.

My daughter celebrating her birthday sailing the Disney Fantasy.

Pamela Birthday Disney Fantasy

Booking port adventures throughout Europe was easy through the Disney Cruise Line website where we registered for free. Disney Cruise Line guides you through every step before your cruise, offering detailed descriptions of port adventures, even describing benefits for children, allowing guests the ability to make informed decisions.

I booked a port adventure at every Mediterranean port and was very excited and comforted by the high standard offered by Disney Cruise Line and great peace of mind. Booking port adventures through them was inexpensive and I knew that if anything went wrong, Disney would be there to assist. They partner with only the best tour companies who fit Disney’s high standards.

Andrew at the starting line at Olympia.

Pete Andrew Olympia starting point

The Disney Magic docked at Katakolon, Greece, where we walked through Olympia, enjoyed a fabulous lunch and walked through the port friendly Katakolon.

Disney Magic Side Photo

Disney Magic Katakolon

Katakolon Lunch DCL

While I won’t elaborate on every port, I will say that every guide was highly trained, paced the tour perfectly and every guide included my son above and beyond the norm. They made Andrew feel a part of the group, they made him feel valued and important. He was given small tasks which fostered inclusion and made Andrew very happy. Andrew held the Mickey Mouse port adventure signs many times leading the group and kept it together, even in the Athens Museum (where I was worried about him making loud vocalizations). Andrew was great, he was immersed in our world, his behaviour was appropriate and just before boarding the bus, having reached his limitations, he asked the tour guide to take the sign back, saying, “I’m tired, no more sign.” We felt so gratified to see our son so happy and we could see his confidence growing on the spot.

Acropolis Andrew

Here is Andrew feeling pride at having led the group closer to the Athens Acropolis.

Andrew Holding DCL Sign Olympia

I never once had any behavioural issues on this trip where the port adventures involved a lot of walking in the hot sun, because of the immersive allowances, the pacing of the tour and the stops at the most amazing, high end restaurants, taverns and cafes for meals and refreshments.

Andrew leading the Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures group to the Athens Acropolis.

Andrew Holding DCL Sign Acropolis

Andrew’s Art

Andrew, my son, diagnosed with Autism at age three is primarily non-verbal, requests only what he wants. We have to guess his needs, his pain, his frustration, his joy and his thoughts. He is strong, he is happy and very playful. In fact, his joy and laugh are contagious. Andrew’s joy defines him.

Last summer, upon the end of the school year, I was asked to come by to pick up school work. I obliged, thinking I’d have to sort through charts, sheets of this and that, but to my great surprise the mound that awaited me was packed with wooden canvases of paintings. Andrew’s Art Therapist, Ashley, looked at me and nodded her head and told me that Andrew loves Art just as much as I do and that he is showing a great affinity for painting and juxtaposing colours together in a complementary manner.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Now I understood why he would come home covered in paint up to his elbows, and patches of paint spots and smears over his clothes. Not that that ever bothered me, I knew he wouldn’t wear an artist’s smock. I figured he loved the texture, feel and smell of the paint and the way it would peel off when dry. I got that, so on I went dissolving the paint on his clothes without question or frustration. What I didn’t know was what he was producing during Art Therapy, what masterpieces and explosions of expression would find their way into the trunk of my car. The ironic thing here is that he has trouble identifying his colours! Go figure!

When home, I couldn’t stop talking to Andrew about my excitement about his paintings. Andrew listened. I began to go through his artwork and prop the canvases up against the wall and he would come around and tell me, “no, like this”. I hadn’t found the right position and he had to correct it. If I placed certain paintings apart, he would come in and re-arrange them to be positioned together. I later learned from his therapist that many paintings were executed simultaneously. What a guy! My Andrew. My Andrew who would quietly watch me photographing his paintings and who would come over and quietly turn them this way and that way until they were positioned that way in which he painted them.

I was floored. Andrew was in my world. Another means by which to reach him had just surfaced and I was elated.

So then I started a Facebook Page called Andrew’s Art. Hundreds of people clicked ‘like’, many folks asked and are continuing to ask if any pieces are for sale. While I see some future potential for Andrew to make a bit of money and possibly become self-sufficient, right now, I don’t have the heart to part with any pieces.

They tell a story. They tell me what his thoughts are. They tell me what he is feeling. How can I let them go? I cannot.

Most importantly, Andrew takes mental inventory and knows the position and filing of each and every piece. What would happen if I took one away? I cannot do that to Andrew.

I want to treasure this new form of self-expression from my son because it allows me to see into his soul for the first time in my life.

Here is the first glimpse I had into my son Andrew’s thoughts.

Andrew Blue Art

Unbelievable pairing of colours. Look at the deep blues, mixed with red to create that beautiful shade of purple. The deep blues mixed with white. And how on earth did he decide on that oh so beautiful splash of brown?