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Ears of Experience: Disney Vacations for Families with Special Needs Children

Disney Partners. Photo by Joe Penniston.

Disney Partners. Photo by Joe Penniston.

Ears of Experience under­stands that suc­cess­fully vaca­tion­ing with a fam­ily mem­ber with spe­cial needs means plan­ning ahead—down to the last detail. A Walt Disney World vaca­tion can be chal­leng­ing to chil­dren with spe­cial needs, from kids with autism to lit­tle people.

A lot of the anx­i­ety that kids with dis­abil­i­ties have is just the fear of the unknown,” says co-owner Amy Sinclair. “Because each child is unique, we work closely with fam­i­lies to accom­mo­date all spe­cial needs and plan the vaca­tion specif­i­cally for each client. We look at every­thing to make sure that it’s per­fect for your child, your fam­ily, and your bud­get, because it’s everyone’s vacation.”

Not only is Amy an expert Walt Disney World vaca­tion plan­ner, but she has also earned sev­eral spe­cial edu­ca­tion degrees and has an exten­sive back­ground teach­ing chil­dren with spe­cial needs—including chil­dren with autism and Down Syndrome.

Before arriv­ing at Disney, Amy sug­gests famil­iar­iz­ing the kids with what to expect on their trip by show­ing them pic­tures of the attrac­tions and view­ing some of Ears of Experience’s YouTube videos. In addi­tion, Ears of Experience pro­vides chil­dren with a visual book­let of what they’ll see at Disney, along with an itin­er­ary of their trip. The book­let includes pic­tures of attrac­tions, rides, and char­ac­ters in the order that the fam­ily will visit that part of the park. As they dis­cover each imaged item, the kids can check it off or put stick­ers on the picture.

This is just another way to make their day go a lit­tle smoother,” com­ments Amy. “They can study this for a few days before vis­it­ing and look at it as they go. It gives them own­er­ship of the vacation.”

Ears of Experience has solu­tions for spe­cific prob­lems chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties may face once in the parks. For exam­ple, the new sights, sounds, and smells can some­times be over­whelm­ing for chil­dren who are sen­si­tive to sen­sory stim­u­la­tion. For this rea­son, Amy sug­gests bring­ing an iPod or noise-cancellation head­phones to block out some of the noise and pre­vent sen­sory over­load. She also sug­gests which parks are bet­ter suited for chil­dren who are sen­si­tive to sen­sory stim­u­la­tion. This way, the chil­dren can relax and more eas­ily enjoy their trip.

Ears of Experience is also com­mit­ted to help­ing fam­i­lies find the best hotel to fit their needs. Families with spe­cial needs chil­dren must con­sider more than just price, such as whether the pub­lic bus sys­tem will be an issue. Ears of Experience knows the pros and cons of each resort and helps fam­i­lies book the best room at the best price. In addi­tion, Ears of Experience noti­fies the hotel of the child’s needs and requests a room that best suits him or her.

We do every­thing we can to make each family’s vaca­tion run smoothly—from help­ing fam­i­lies locate Guest Assistance Cards to being avail­able by text mes­sage if any prob­lems arise.”

About Ears of Experience:
Ears of Experience is a fam­ily owned and run Disney travel book­ing com­pany that offers their ser­vices for no extra cost. Jon and Amy Sinclair have been help­ing cus­tomers book the per­fect Disney trip since 1999, and their daugh­ters Natalie “Kid Expert” Sinclair and Marin Sinclair help with the kids’ perspective.

Photo by Joe Penniston.

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