Our special needs son Andrew loves Disneyland; but that’s not what makes him unique. After all, you’d be hard pressed to find a child that doesn’t dream of spending day in and day out at the world’s most famous amusement park.
What does make Andrew unique, however, is that unlike many other children his age, he does not have the physical stamina to walk through the park without collapsing under the physical strain, nor is he able to navigate the long lines and often suffocating crowds without completely coming unhinged, from the inside out.
You see, Andrew has autism, epilepsy, and global physical and developmental delays that can turn a magical day at The Kingdom into a day of hell, and there’s not an over-sized Disney character or Lightning McQueen shaped lollipop big enough to turn things around once the downward spiral has begun.
But like most special needs families, we want to give Andrew every opportunity to experience the things he loves, and Disneyland is no exception. Thankfully, the park has always been amazing at accommodating our son by providing a special pass that allows us to get him on rides more quickly and efficiently, and we are grateful that he is able to go on his favorite rides in a way that’s accessible for him.
We aren’t the only ones who rely on this pass, as it allows individuals with a variety of physical and developmental challenges to safely experience the park on gentler terms. Like us, many of these people would have to forfeit their day at the park if these passes were unavailable.
So imagine my absolute anger and disgust when I heard about a trend among the 1% in our country that involves hiring disabled tour guides to pose as family members so that everyone can enjoy the “perks” of an accommodation that makes all the difference in the lives of special needs individuals and their families.
This is lower than low; it’s flat-out criminal. Abusing a program in place for those who truly need it is outrageous, and it only serves to reinforce many suspicions and asinine prejudices society holds against those with special needs, mainly that they’re milking the system and using their diagnoses as a way to take advantage of able-bodied and developmentally typical peers.
Because yeah, the moment Andrew was diagnosed, the first thought my husband and I had was “YES!!!!!! Now we don’t have to wait in those pesky, long Disneyland lines!! Woohoooo!! It’s all downhill from here!”
Do we appreciate the pass? Yes. Do we consider it a “perk” of Andrew’s condition? My God, no. It’s not a PERK; it’s a way of making an experience accessible; it levels the playing field for our son (On a side note, please stop telling us how LUCKY we are that we get to by through the lines faster. LUCKY is not the word that comes to mind).
These socialite bitches hiring special needs guides need a swift kick in the ass, from Mickey and the gang themselves.
As for us, we’ll continue to enjoy our visits to Disneyland and try not to care that people may be judging us as we walk ahead of them in line, knowing in our hearts that our son is worth the accommodation.
And in case any of you wealthy jackasses reading this are wondering, my kid is not for hire.
**UPDATE** – For the record, I do know that not only the wealthy engage in fraudulent behavior regarding the guest assistance passes. It’s been brought to my attention by several readers that individuals of various economic situations - as well as a diverse age-range – take advantage of these passes and blatantly misuse them. I know this guys. I see it too. I reference the wealthy in this post because it’s in response to the report out today regarding upper class families hiring special needs guides in order to cut through the lines. I’m not in any way suggesting that only the rich are misusing the passes. Jackasses are abundant among all socioeconomic classes. There. All better?