Parents of children with disabilities and special needs are more likely to be depressed than other parents. Why? You have to serve as both parent and full-time caretaker.
We’re not saying your child is a burden – we know you love them and they’re a ray of sunshine in your life. We’re saying that while it’s hard to find inclusive locations, you need a vacation too.
But where can you go that will serve as a special needs friendly spot while being fun for the whole family?
Check out these best vacations for kids with special needs spots and get booking your flights today!
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If your child has a disability that puts them in a wheelchair or another mobility aided device, you’ll find that Disney World really works to make them happy.
The park is no stranger to people with mobility limitations. Though the more intense rides will be off limits to someone who can’t move on their own, there are tons of general activities in the park.
People with disabilities can still enjoy meeting characters and seeing the general magic of the park.
Want to hop from park to park? All Monorail stations have ramps for easy wheelchair access.
There’s actually a full office at Disney that works with disability park access. You can rent a wheelchair there or bring your own, hand pushed or electronic.
Wheelchair Friendly Rides
Your child doesn’t have to miss out on the rides because of their disability. There are three kinds of accessible rides at WDW. The office of Disability Services classifies them three ways.
- Wheelchair and ECV Friendly
- Ambulatory Only
- Wheelchair Only (No ECV)
The website lists all the rides at every park in each category, including the waterparks. It’s a long and detailed list, so we gave you just a few examples below.
Wheelchair and ECV Friendly Rides
You’re set to wheel in and go on the following rides
- The Jungle Cruise (MK)
- Reflections of China (Epcot)
- Muppet Vision 3D (HS)
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug (AK)
For rides that are listed as Ambulatory (must leave the chair to enter the ride) Disney employees can’t help during the transfer process.
You’ll need to move your child yourself or have someone with you who can do so safely. Disney employees mean well, but they’re not trained or educated on transfer processes.
If your child has medical devices that can’t be detached from their chair, the ambulatory rides are not for you.
A Sensory Disclaimer on Disney
Did our choice of Disney surprise you? Since there are so many examples of special needs, we wanted to cover both physical and behavioral ground.
Disney is not recommended for children with processing issues or disabilities that cause them to overwhelm easily. Even the “Main Street” has music playing and people everywhere – enough to put off any sensory-sensitive child.
If your child has sensory issues, you’ll be more about our next listing.
Select Beaches Resorts
The all-inclusive resort chain Beaches just announced that they’ve been IBCCES accredited for their inclusive childcare (sometimes called camps).
These are the kind of resorts where parents can drop their kids off while they go out for dinner or to help them make friends they can play with later on the beach.
Before, these weren’t options for parents of children on the Autism spectrum. Not only were they concerned the new venue would upset their child, but they didn’t know if there were educated professionals.
Now that’s not an issue. The Beaches Kids Clubs and camps now offer Autism-trained caretakers and activities that are truly inclusive. Does your child (or you) love the Autistic character on Sesame Street?
If you haven’t met Julia from Sesame street yet, all you need to know is that they do a great job. Instead of making it a big deal, they just say that Julia is a little different than their other friends.
And if your child idolizes Julia (or you do), you’re in luck. Certain Carribean locations have a Julia character that kids can interact with and even do art with.
Want to book a vacation where your child can get care that fits their needs while you lounge on the beach? Call Beaches vacation planners and ask about their locations with Certified Autism Centers.
The National Sports Center for the Disabled
Are you trying to spend less money on flights and stay in the mid-west or the central US?
Colorado is a little west of central, but the center in Winter Park is worth the trip.
If your kiddo has physical disabilities or limits, they won’t feel like it when they visit. The entire center is designed to cater to as many ages, sizes, and abilities as possible.
They even have workshops and special guests – like the Pro NBA team the Denver Nuggets who play in nearby Denver.
There are ski lessons for people who can’t use their legs via things like ski-bikes and arm skis. It’s truly a magical place.
No matter the mix of abilities in your family, everyone will have fun here – whether you choose to swim or ski down the slopes.
Morgan’s Wonderland in Texas
Another spot where able-bodied families can have fun along with their children in wheelchairs or with mobility aiding devices. This park in San Antonio is known for being one of the most wheelchair accessible recreational places there is.
And children with sensory issues aren’t left out of the fun. There are a sensory village and music garden that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy.
And if you have a kid who likes trains – don’t worry – they have one of those too.
Got a kid with special needs? Just let the park staff know. Your differently abled child gets into the park for free (but not the rest of your family)
The Best Vacations for Kids with Special Needs
As a family that has a child with special needs, you may feel like you don’t have as many choices for vacations. Hopefully, this list both inspired you to travel and made you feel a little more included in the world.
We hope the best vacations for kids with different needs in the article work for your family.
Are you planning an Easter vacation for your family and need some activities for the downtime? We’ve got you covered.