My friend loves hearing about the trips my family has been on and wants to take her family on one also. She has an autisic son and was asking if any of the ships children's programs accommodate children with these kind of handicaps. Does anyone have any info?
Radiance of the Sea 11/7/04
Sapphire Princess 10/1/05
I think you may want to research on the internet if there are specific cruiselines for this type of situation (akin to the special cruises offered to Dialisis patients). My son has ADHD and our experience has been that because of the higher child to staff ratio on cruises (they are not held to the ratios of children's facilities in the US) we have to guage his ability to participate in children's cruise programs on a case by case/day by day basis. Sometimes the programs are far too loud and unstructured to meet his needs while many evening programs are more low key and have fewer/a minimal number of choices much better suited to his ability to adapt in new situations.
I think that your friend would have to determine if her son is able to independantly participate in large scale children's activity program-the cruiselines routinly do not accept children unescorted into the children's programs who have need of special attendance (there are liability and lack of specialized training issues)-that said, the programs generaly will accept the child with an accompying adult. This being the case, either of the parents could attend with child, or if the child has a care provider perhaps they would welcome the opportunity to join the family in exchange for the opportunity to enjoy the cruise as well (additional adult prices on most cruises are generaly a good deal lower after the first 2).
you might contact Special Olympics in your state to see if they could offer some insight (they usually have strong parent support groups and I'm sure some of them have cruised as a family unit)..good luck
bravemom has given you a well tought out response and I'm sure this board will give you additional support
There are differing "degrees" of autism. Whether or not your friend's son could/should be in the kids' programs will depend on his level of functioning and his age. Many children with autism do not appear different. For others, it would be totally inappropriate to expect the staff to be responsible for them. If your friend's son does not require a one-on-one aide in school, then he may be fine in a group of his peers. But if he has significant communication issues, he wouldn't enjoy the experience and may find it traumatic. A better idea might be to bring someone who understands autism to act as a "nanny", like a teacher on summer break... hint hint...
but it was a great "hint"...and like almost anything else could be a great way to develop an exciting new "job"...statistics indicate that about 5% of the population have "special needs" and more and more families with members who are special needs want to find opportunities to include their child in family activities like cruising so a really smart cruise line can appeal to that "niche"..remember HAL has older gentlemen who are recruited to be dance and companion partners for ladies cruising alone because they know that women outlive men...so Stacy could offer her "services" over the summer to fill that role for a family with a special needs child or be a consultant to the "kids" program so much like "friends of bill", the cruise lines could make families know that Stacy is onboard to assist them without making it over obvious and bring more undue attention
to have a special needs child is a "gift" from God, to have that special skill and dedication to work as a teacher or professional with a special needs child is also a "gift" from God and God meant for all of his" gifts" to cruise (smile)
Venice, I definately thinks there's a need for something like this. How reassuring would it be for many families to know that at least one adult in the program understood their child's uniqueness.
The downside, though, for the cruiseline, is that once it got known... wow... they would be running a HUGE kids program that would require them to hire more and more professionals. Our school district developed a top-notched program for children in grades K-3 with autism. Once it got around, we began to get many of these children. Other schools would "recommend" us to parents and instead of living in that town, they moved to us. As a result, our district is extremely overburdened financially. Last Fall we had 12 children with autism register for Kindergarten. Many of these kids require a one-on-one aide ($!). One boy actually required TWO adults at all times, to protect him from himself and to protect the other children in the school... and he was in Kindergarten. Another school in our district "specializes" in hearing impaired kids. I think they have three full time teachers that work as interpreters. It's a great idea, but it costs a LOT and like cruise passengers, the minority that use these services don't pay any more that those that don't use it.
But what a perk it would be to work with these kids on a cruiseship. Teachers have the same vacations as the kids, too, so it should be simpler to find people available for holiday sailings.
understand about an over burden school system..however I bet that if a CEO of a cruise line had a special needs child in his/her family, a way would be found to provide an opportunity for all special needs families to at least have the opportunity to consider cruising...you might try to write a letter to a cruise line to find out if they are open to at least explore some dialogue about it...I would suspect as it now stands, they probably have more special needs families cruising then they are aware of and they probably instruct their staff to page the parents if there is a problem, but at least they could train their staff in disability awareness
it never hurts to reach out (in fact it is a good business decision) to the disable community..newer ships have more cabins that can accomodate physical disabilities, maybe a start would be for one cruise company to have the courage to market, with dignity, to the special needs community. Special Olympics has a wonderful unified sports program that matches a special needs athlete with a non special needs athlete in various sports and a by product of this are that families of both athletes bond also and understand there is more in common than difference
parents of a special needs child with siblings focus very hard on activities that can involve all of their children. i bet if you chat with a few local travel agents about this issue they may be able to provide insight when they have a potential cruise client who expresses concern about the ability of the cruise line to meet their special needs, which may not be all that difficult if there was a person on board (you) that could help.no travel agent wants to say no to losing business because of this issue
fyi, the cruise line would not have to "hire" alot of people to deal with this...just do a barter (much like physicans) or a reduced rate..they could make this work. our original poster (dsue79) and yourself would be wonderful volunteers on a cruise for this.the key is providing education to the cruise line about this issue
I would suggest that you contact the cruise line that you will be traveling with and see if they have any restrictions. I hate to think that they would discriminate but it sometimes takes a special person to work with special children. Another thing is maybe someone in your group could help to free up mom and dad instead of using the cruise childcare.
My son is OCD (obsessive, compulsive disorder) and I mentioned in his therapy session that we were going on a cruise and his doctor volunteered to go with us (at our cost and he was joking) but it would have been great if he did go because he would have seen my son overcoming several obstacles.