A few weeks ago, Serena from Living By Disney did a podcast for folks who want to become Disney content creators. While I know that being a "creator" or "influencer" is not for me, I appreciated her message that there is no one out there with my unique voice, perspective, and experience. That has really wormed into my brain, because for years I've been trying to speak to a general audience, sharing the same kinds of tips as everyone else, and not being entirely upfront about my own personal theme park experience. Today we're unmasking! If you're not familiar with the concept of masking, in a broad sense it's how we hide our challenges. I rarely talk about this, but I have a lot of sensory challenges with direct sunlight and heat. When I am in Orlando and it's 90°, sometimes even if it's just plain sunny, most of my brain can only focus on how much I hate it. I love going to Orlando, but my hatred of sun is INTENSE. I will have a meltdown (literally) if I get overheated. Sunglasses, hair up, and a visor help get about half of my brain back, but that means I'm never taking any cute "influencer" type photos. There are almost no photos of me on a trip, outdoors, in daylight hours, without sunglasses. I also can't devote much brain power to making videos in-destination, which is where all the "content creation"is these days. There are some other challenges I'll talk about in future posts. That said, I obviously return again and again, so I DO have a lot of strategies to share! My 8 year old kiddo, Lilly, has sensory challenges that are a bit more complex. Crowds, visually "busy" queues, fireworks, public restrooms, any surprising noises, are very taxing for her. She also needs a lot of routine, and on vacation that means she usually has control over the schedule, both in advance and in the moment. We NEED breaks. We NEED early bedtimes. We NEED to be flexible in the morning. That means the prevailing social media attitude of "Resorts are only for sleeping! Let's rope drop and stay until they kick us out!" does not fit us. We care a great deal about our resort's location and amenities! My husband, Francis, is the neurotypical member of the family, but he is retired from the US Army and did deployments to Afghanistan & Iraq. Today, he handles crowds and fireworks pretty well, but he has experience with PTSD. He uses Loop earplugs and needs downtime away from crowds, too. I think that as a family, we have a lot of advice and experience for the folks who come to Disney on leave or after a deployment, when they want things to be "normal," but that's easier said than done. Realizing how much I have to share on these topics, I'm so excited to dive in! I'll be sharing a lot more here on the blog and on social media about how we balance our love of theme parks with our preference for shade and solitude!
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