Judge rules in 45 autism suits that Disney provided sufficient accommodations

Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2016 8:09 AM | Contributed by Jeff

An Orlando federal judge has decided in Disney's favor regarding 45 more lawsuits over access to theme-park rides and attractions for disabled people, but the lawyer handling them is already appealing to a higher court.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 8:26 AM

I think the judge made the right call. And the lawyer is alleging some whacked-out stuff... that the company is top-down trying to conspire and discriminate against people? For what possible motive? Get a grip.

I often trivialize my experience with autism as a parent because it's not nearly as bad as some experience it. At 6, my kid has already adopted many of the coping strategies that allow him to blend in with neurotypical kids. But I do appreciate the issue with routine and inflexibility. Sometimes Simon has some pretty random trauma, like when a substitute bus driver takes the "wrong" way home from school. I get it. And yes, I've had to carry my meltdown kid out of Magic Kingdom before, leading to another meltdown when we didn't sit in the first car of the monorail.

That said, if the spirit of ADA is equal access, then line skipping at will is not equal access. It's never my intention to be judgmental toward other parents, because I don't know what they go through, but we learned very early on that the best way to have flexibility is to not create structure in the first place. If you establish a set of rules and procedures, in this case an order of attractions to ride, you've already set yourself up for failure. Just having a Fastpass that we can't use because a ride goes down mechanical has caused challenges for us. We were next in line for Pooh once, when it went down, and there was no saving the kid from what he could not reconcile (in his mind, the rule was that he must ride at that time, because of the contract established by the FP). It's worth noting that a cast member was happy to give us a paper Fastpass to ride anything else.

After three years of negotiating these kinds of situations at WDW, what we've found is that sheltering him from situations that required flexibility would not have done him any favors. He's a lot better at rolling with things than he was in 2013, and I think that's because he's had the chance to learn how to cope with the changes. It certainly would have been more convenient for us, as parents, to do whatever possible to preempt any meltdowns, but it would not have been good for him in the long run. I realize that we have it "better" than others, with a kid who is fully functional and successful in school, and relatively social, but just as I wouldn't rush in to protect him from "bullies," I'm not going to try and make every situation perfect for him either so he doesn't have to learn to adjust.

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