Inquiring Minds Want To Know
Why does Jess use a wheelchair? I get this question every time we share pics from a Walt Disney World vacation. The short answer is that it is necessary; the only way Jess can navigate through the parks. Our very first trip to Walt Disney World Resort Florida was in 2000. Since then, we have done Disney enough to know how to be prepared for experiencing the parks with an autistic blind adult.
Jessica’s Mobility and Endurance
In familiar home settings, Jessica’s mobility is so great that it is easy to forget about her vision impairment. However, take her out of a familiar environment and everything changes. Outside, particularly on a sunny day, her vision decreases significantly due to her cortical vision impairment. That dramatically slows down her mobility. And I mean s-l-o-w.
She moves with caution and fear of the unknown. Add to that mild right-sided weakness and severe attention deficit. We have to alert her to every change in terrain, every step up, step down and obstacles in her path, like people.
Pedestrians do not notice that she can’t see and some will actually run into her thinking she will move out of their way. When that happens? Oh boy, Jessica is so taken by surprised and offended that she can just about start a riot in a few seconds flat.
Jessica can only make it a short distance in that kind of environment before she is exhausted and unable to continue. That is not fun for any of us, especially since we are at Disney for the happiness and magic.The Wheelchair
This leads me to Jessica’s favorite part of the trip, I kid you not. Her wheelchair. It is the single most important item that we take on our trip. Jess + wheelchair = total bliss. For all of us.
One of the things I have learned over the years is to pay attention to which rides allow her to stay in the wheelchair. Another consideration is which require a fast transfer or require the use of a moving walk-way. If I prepare her ahead of time, she is sort of okay with transferring out of the wheelchair when it is required.
Jessica’s biggest issue with transferring out of the chair is the worrying that it won’t be there when she gets back off of the ride. She needs lots of reinforcement that the chair will still be there when she finishes the ride.It’s For The Family
Big picture, using the wheelchair is not just for Jessica. It is for the whole family. We invest of time, energy, and of course money, to go find and experience this magic and happiness. Why would we not do everything we can to make sure we have the best experience possible?