Saw a thread that was closed by request of the OP; however, I wanted to see if anyone has experienced or seen other guests at Disneyland with disabilities and talked with them or even helped them?
(This thread is not about the Guest Assistance Service or the Disability Access Card so please save that debate. However, I was with the family this last week as I took Wednesday off and actually meet a very nice person wearing a Guest Assistance Card and was not the first time I saw this person. I am going to share what I have learned about him. It might surprise you.)
For his privacy I am not going to post his name; however, he is extreme open and as mentioned wears his Guest Assistance Card with his picture on a lanyard. I have seen him more then once at the Parks when I have gone there with my son or family. His behaviors are sometimes odd and you may be wondering why he keeps looking around or somethings what appears to be making sudden movements or complete 180 with no explanation at all.
He is in his early to mid 40's. Most times he lacks in personal shaving. And I have learned some interesting facts.
So, as I mentioned I took the opportunity to talk to this guy this last week. We were in Fantasyland and I saw him. Had not seen him in while and he looked a little different and was actually shaven which caught me off guard a little. I knew exactly where he was going ... Peter Pan or Mr. Toad. I think that is the only ride he goes to in the Park.
He walked straight to Peter Pan and Cast Members escorted him right past other disabled guests that were waiting. So it really baffled me to see this happen. How one disabled guest got to go before others. It was like a triage system in the hospital. I have generally seen him walking or while standing in the line.
Now, I have no problem with disabled guests going in front of me. Be it from a person with a broken leg to a Veteran coming home with PTSD. And if you have any issue with that then this is not the place to argue that but I will say "I" have respect and will be raising my kids to show the same to any elder or disabled person. So I decided to put my foot where my mouth is.
It took a while for him to come off the ride. So I assume he might of had issues (or rode twice as I am not sure how the Guest Pass works). Once he came off I noticed him standing facing the whale on the Canal Boats ride for some time so I walked near to attempt to say, "Hello". It failed as he started to do his interested pace back and forth around the Guest Services cart then finally started talking to the Cast Member.
Once he was done I made contact with him. I asked if everything was okay and inquired what if was trading pins (lanyard) to break the ice. He said it was Guest Assistance Card and so I inquired if he did not mind me asking what it was for and how to get one. He said not at all and that he wears it to help ensure others are aware that he has an invisible disability and he also showed me his medical alert bracelet.
I asked what it says and without even stopping a beat he showed me and said it is in case he passes out because of his Panic Disorder. He says that Disney allows him to come in the Park so long as he emails or calls ahead and alerts them. I was like that must take a lot of planning. He said he does not mind as it was truly for the protection of him and others in the Park and that he was a Premium Pass Holder so he can plan any day and likes it that he can make decisions, freely (if you call having to plan ahead of time freely ...).
I asked him if he ever passed out at the Park. He said numerous times and a few times paramedics had been dispatched into the Park. He said it makes him very upset as he knows that young children might not understand what is going on and it can be a very scary experience for them so he has to be careful. They said Disney has them dispatched and enroute each time; however, when they know its him they hold assess it first and ask how he is doing, first if he comes to quick enough.
I asked what causes him to have an attack that makes him pass out. He told me the inability or irrational thought that he will be unable to escape or fear of death. I agreed that I would be scared too. Then he just started talking about how it all started and just went into details (more then I expected - but it was a good learning experience for me).
In summary, he was involved in a bomb incident where he past out and woke up in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital. He thought they were trying to kill him that they had the strap him down and put him back under. He said he remembered saying the Lords Prayer. Learning about him passing out reminded me of stories I heard from parents I talked with during Disney's Epilepsy Awareness Day - pretty scary stuff.
He has paranoid schizophrenia and mentioned that his half-brother also has it. He mentioned his half-brother is homeless because he in untreated. Then he went on about Kelly Thomas. The guy loves to talk...
In the end he reminded me of John Nash. So, towards the end of our conversation I mentioned that he is like Dr. Nash and his response blew me away. He said something along the lines that it is amazing how people underestimate us with mental disabilities and assume that we cannot do great things.
So, for those of you that have issues with people disabilities having a door open for them or someone standing up to offer a seat to allowing them on damn ride before you I think you really need to get to know some of these people before you judge them.
As far as this guy he can go in front of our family anytime. He has earned my respect for dealing with a mental disorder as severe as paranoid schizophrenia and panic disorder yet still functioning enough to be able to go to Disneyland with help from Cast Members - more power to him he earned it. He mentioned that Disney has an exemption in place for him but he does not use it and that certain Cast Members sometimes notice when he is having difficulties that see him often and make sure he is safe - that is just amazing!
I asked him what those exemptions where and why he does not use them and he said he challenges himself to try to function as best he can let a normal person and sometimes he will actually do a regular queue (he said that with so much pride it was truly heart felt) although he refused to tell me the exemption...
I asked him about his picture as he is wearing a suit and he said he sometimes pays for a tour and on that day he went to Club 33 with his wife. I smiled and asked if he was a member and he said out of respect for the great people that help him he would ask me not to inquire.
I offered him to join us for lunch and he said he cannot be inside for long periods of times so I offered an outdoor area and I noticed by he body language that he was having problems so I thanked him for his time and we parted ways. I said my name once as we exchanged hand shakes in order to catch his name again and he started to say 'doctor' which took me for second. So I inquired and he said it is in accounting. I mentioned mine was in mathematics.
He smiled up and said so you do know Dr. Nash's story. I said 'yes' with a smile. And we parted ways. I am so looking forwarded to seeing him and again and talking more with him. Maybe I can get to know him better and who knows get an invite into Club 33 when it reopens. Very Excited!
So have you ever stopped and had a conversation with a disabled guest at Disneyland?