The Package Has Arrived

I received free products in order to host the Disney Side @Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I was sitting here deep in thought, doing some copyediting on this snowy day. Husband was working too, and daughter was face-timing a friend since school was canceled. We didn’t hear the UPS truck creep up in front of house, but we heard the driver start up the engine as he was ready to leave. “UPS!” I shouted!

The moment had arrived.


Grace was out of her mind with excitement, so we busted it open right away.

Holy cow! Look at all this!


I was able to get a good photo of the loot without the cat attempting to photobomb my set up. At one point, Rory strolled in and pointed at the pile of goodies indicating she wanted it all. Who can blame her? Also in the package… Disney bingo, Disney trivia. I have a very thorough Hostess Kit to read over and I then the party planning really can get underway.

I think I have an idea for a theme… stay tuned!


I received free products in order to host the Disney Side @Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Why Grace Walks: The 2013 DC Walk Now for Autism Speaks

If you people have met Rory you know how awesome she is. I walk because I care about Rory. Rory is the most important person in my life, I would do anything to protect her. I really think you should bring your family to Washington DC to show your support. Become a Rory Rover! I have gone places like the mall and when Rory gets upset like if a song  comes on that she doesn’t like, and she just starts screaming and people stare at me and my family like we WANT Rory to do this, and I just think “Hey come on. Just because Rory has Autism, doesn’t mean she is any different from you.’’ Or sometimes, I feel like I might just explode.But sometimes, I just feel this connection with Rory. Like when she smiles or when we run down a grass hill together or the best thing just simply holding hands. Sometimes we play this game where she does a dance move and I copy her. Like I said, Rory is the best part of my life and I am proud of being her older sister.


Changes Coming to Disney’s GAC Program

Here’s what we know from the folks at Disney.

“Disney has an unwavering commitment to making our experiences accessible to all Guests.  After careful consideration, we will be replacing the Guest Assistance Card with the new Disability Access Service Card on Oct. 9 to create a more consistent experience for all our Guests while providing accommodations for Guests with disabilities. Until Oct. 9, we will continue to use Guest Assistance Cards. We look forward to sharing more information about the Disability Access Service Card as we get closer to implementation.”

How will the new Disney program work?

The Disability Access Service Card will offer Guests a return time for an attraction based on the current wait time. Guest Assistance Cards will continue to be in effect until Oct. 9. We look forward to sharing more information as we get closer to implementation. 

Did Disney receive assistance in developing the Disability Access Service Card?

Yes, Disney is engaging disability groups, and Autism Speaks was instrumental in providing feedback as we developed this new process.

Why is Disney making these changes?

Given the increasing volume of requests Disney receives for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process beginning Oct. 9 so that it creates a more consistent experience for all our Guests while providing accommodations for Guests with disabilities.

Who will be eligible for a Disability Access Service Card?
Our goal is to accommodate Guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities).

Will Guests on wish trips also use Disability Access Service Cards?

No. Guests who are visiting through wish-granting organizations will have access through a separate program. 

What should Guests do if they have concerns? 

Guests should contact Guest Relations to discuss their assistance needs.

So… that’s what I know so far, and I’m sharing it with you. We will know more the closer we get to October 9th. I’m comforted seeing the reference to people with non-apparent disabilities as well as Autism Speaks involvement in developing a new policy. Disney has been amazing to us… I’m staying positive.

Why We Walk: 2013

How great is this kid?

She surfs.


 She likes rides and hanging out with her family.


 She loves working on the computer.


 She takes meetings with the Montgomery County Police.


 She’s brave when she gets hurt.


She’s silly.


She’s Sally.


She loves the water.


She’s a discriminating shopper.


She loves her sister.


She eats pizza delicately like it’s fancy hors d’oeuvres.


 She’s athletic.


She’s perfectly, wonderfully, awesomely RORY.


 And she is why we walk.

Please support Rory’s Rovers in the 2013 DC Walk Now for Autism Speaks.

Hershey Park for Families with a Child with Autism

I can’t say enough great things about Hershey’s Park’s autism policy. I called ahead to ask about how it worked so we were prepared when we got there. Hershey Park has a questionnaire for guests with disabilities to feel out ahead of time. All of the questions pertain to ability to whether a rider can get on and off by themselves and can they hold on during the ride. General safety issues.

Here’s the form:

After we arrived, we went right to to Hospitality Services, just inside the front gate. It was busy when we arrived and the line was long, but I realized quickly that there was a separate ADA line. (The longer line was for purchasing SpeedPass.) We gave the attendant Rory’s form and they measured Rory to see how tall she was which determined what rides she could go on. Rory was a Hershey.

Rory was a Hershey. Grace was a Twizzler.

Rory was a Hershey. Grace was a Twizzler.

Rory got a special yellow bracelet to wear at the park. They gave me a boarding pass with Rory’s name on it that listed all the rides that a Hershey could ride. For these attractions, we simply had to go to the ride’s exit and show the attendant our boarding pass, and all five of us could get on the ride.

It was slightly different for roller coasters. There are four seats left open in the middle of every coaster for guests with this pass. So, for these rides only four of us could go on. I happily served as photographer while the rest of the gang enjoyed the ride.

The people in Hospitality Services were awesome, as were the attendants at every ride. It was VERY Disney-like. We all had a really fantastic time.

There was only one small blip in our otherwise perfect day and it had nothing to do with Hershey Park. Rory had a few rough moments. First was around lunchtime, when she was famished, and again right at the end of the day when she was flat out exhausted. A lot of people stared. I mean A LOT. Not just glancing. Full on stares. I wasn’t going to say anything, but Grace brought it up on the way home and mentioned how uncomfortable it made her. Kids stared, and the parents didn’t say anything like “Sweetie, it’s impolite to stare” because the parents were staring too. Granted, maybe some people hadn’t seen a meltdown on the scale that Rory had at the end of the day. But on the other hand, is it that unusual to see even a typical kid completely frazzled after a long day at a theme park? On both occasions, a Hershey Park attendant gently asked what was wrong and was there anything they could do to help. Totally awesome. This happened at the beach a few weeks ago too. Lots of stares. And seeing the stares today in Hershey and at Rehoboth made me realize we almost never get stares here in the DC area.  Maybe our autism awareness efforts are working around here!

Rachel Maddow’s Post Election Monologue

“Ohio really did go to President Obama last night and he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately President of the United States. Again. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math. And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing. And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us. And nobody is taking away anyone’s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually. And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And UN election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.


Listen, last night was a good night for liberals and for Democrats for very obvious reasons. But it was also possibly a good night for this country as a whole. Because in this country, we have a two party system in government. And the idea is supposed to be that the two sides come up with ideas to confront and fix real problems facing our country. They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate between those possible solutions. And by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition between good ideas from both sides about real problems in the real country should result in our country having better choices, better options than if only one side is really working on the hard stuff. And if the Republican party, and the conservative movement, and the conservative media is stuck in a vacuum sealed, door locked spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good, and denying the factual, lived truth of the world, then we are all as a nation deprived of the constructive debate between competing, feasible ideas about real problems.  Last night, the Republicans got shellacked and they had no idea it was coming. And we saw them in real-time, in real, humiliating time, not believe it even as it was happening to them. And unless they are going to secede, they are going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them, I’m sure, but it will be good for the whole country, left, right, and center. You guys, we’re counting on you. Wake up. There’s real problems in the world. There are real, knowable facts in the world. Let’s accept those and talk about how we might approach our problems differently. Let’s move on from there. If the Republican party, and the conservative movement, and conservative media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night, we will all be better off as a nation. And in that spirit, congratulations everybody. Big night.”