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Kings Island angers special-needs parents


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The policy is as fair as it can be for everyone. With the risk of sounding insensitive (and I truly am not), if a guest has a severe enough case that a set time to ride still cannot be followed due t

I bolded the part of the quote that definitely fits my brother. It was always complicated. We were still visiting CP with the RVs regularly when they decided they wanted to try the new boarding pass o

Depending on the degree of autism, of course. Currently, we cast a net that's way too wide (in my professional opinion...in case you're wondering, I'm a therapist and professor that specializes in ch

I think its sort of fair but the more I think about it the more I think it also isn't fair. What happens if someone really does want to go to Kings Island and likes to ride the rides but cant because he/she can't wait in lines. It is almost impossible to teach someone to wait that can't already do so. What happens if there are other people that are in the family of them that really want to go but can't because their brother is prone to meltdowns. Thats the reason why I also think it isn't fair. You can disagree with me all you want but its my opinion.

It's not just the waiting in line that is the underlying issue, but the break from the norm. (i.e.: the special needs person is not able to watch a certain TV program at a certain time due to breaking national news. They will not understand why the program is not on TV.)

For instance: there have been many issues with WS. What would happen if WS stops at the top for an extended amount of time (aka- breaking the norm)? Those with special needs have been known to have incredible strength. Could they get out of the restraint? It's a scary thought.

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What is "fair" has nothing to do with ADA. It's not about fairness. It's ALL about reasonable accommodation.

Fair enough :)

I have to tell other students "fair does not mean equal" when they ask why a certain student only has to answer 15 instead of 25 questions, etc.

To be honest, as a supporter and worker with children/adults with special needs, I believe the park has a good system in place. Could it be better? Yes. The reason being is that 1 support cannot and does not work for all guests.

But to a parent with a child who does not understand waiting, the card may not seem reasonable.

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my opinion summed up by this quote...

There’s no question that many people with autism can’t wait in line, but there’s no question that a kid with AD/HD or a person with a back problem can’t wait in line. Where do you draw the line?

(-Jennifer Repella, vice president of programs with the Autism Society)

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Slightly different though. A child with ADHD need to be moving. Or need input of some sort, a person with a back problem probably shouldnt be riding a roller coaster in the first place. So if standing in line aggravates the back, then Im sure a ride would hurt as well. But some people with back issues actually have walkers with a built in seat to help them as they are standing in the line.

A child with Autism when over stimulated can cause self harming behaviors or start other harming behaviors.

Comparing a child with ADHD or an adult with back injuries to a child/adult with Autism is not a fair comparison at all.

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Depending on the degree of autism, of course.

Currently, we cast a net that's way too wide (in my professional opinion...in case you're wondering, I'm a therapist and professor that specializes in child psychopathology, so I find this thread particularly interesting), For example, if you were ever diagnosed with Asperger's, guess what? "POOF", that has magically become autism in 2013, but it's a "better safe than sorry" approach, of course.

In the past 5 years, I've actually been asked by at least half a dozen parents to switch their child's diagnosis of a learning disability to a diagnosis of autism. Why? They can get mandated support from the schools with that diagnosis that they can't get with others. This is not an uncommon situation doctors and therapists find themselves in. Frankly, I've never done it, so they move on until they find someone who will.

One thing we know for sure is that early intervention is absolutely key, so part of this wave is so that kids that can benefit from early intervention can get it. It's such a broad, broad, spectrum, it's nearly impossible to have a blanket, catch-all policy in my opinion.

What struck me was someone's comment about a ride e-stopping and everyone being forced to do a walk-down. If someone's autism is so severe that they honestly could not stand to be in a line for more than a few minutes, what on earth would you do in that situation? You could very easily be putting your child's life (and the life of others) in serious danger.

I've never though twice about someone with a disability going ahead of me on a ride, or being put on a train in "my row". In fact, I typically make a point to smile and make a kind gesture, as I'm sure they get faced with their fair share of dirty looks throughout the day.

I'm just relieved no one on here has said the word vaccine yet. I still meet parents who have more faith in Jenny McCarthy than medical science.

And no, you absolutely cannot compare someone with autism to someone with ADHD or back issues. Such a statement reflects a misunderstanding of the issue at hand. An older child with a more severe case of autism could become a very real danger to him or herself and others in an emergency situation.

note; part of this was cut/paste from my posts in our discussion at coasterbuzz of the same topic.

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Depending on the degree of autism, of course.

Currently, we cast a net that's way too wide (in my professional opinion...in case you're wondering, I'm a therapist and professor that specializes in child psychopathology, so I find this thread particularly interesting), For example, if you were ever diagnosed with Asperger's, guess what? "POOF", that has magically become autism in 2013, but it's a "better safe than sorry" approach, of course.

In the past 5 years, I've actually been asked by at least half a dozen parents to switch their child's diagnosis of a learning disability to a diagnosis of autism. Why? They can get mandated support from the schools with that diagnosis that they can't get with others. This is not an uncommon situation doctors and therapists find themselves in. Frankly, I've never done it, so they move on until they find someone who will.

One thing we know for sure is that early intervention is absolutely key, so part of this wave is so that kids that can benefit from early intervention can get it. It's such a broad, broad, spectrum, it's nearly impossible to have a blanket, catch-all policy in my opinion.

What struck me was someone's comment about a ride e-stopping and everyone being forced to do a walk-down. If someone's autism is so severe that they honestly could not stand to be in a line for more than a few minutes, what on earth would you do in that situation? You could very easily be putting your child's life (and the life of others) in serious danger.

I've never though twice about someone with a disability going ahead of me on a ride, or being put on a train in "my row". In fact, I typically make a point to smile and make a kind gesture, as I'm sure they get faced with their fair share of dirty looks throughout the day.

I'm just relieved no one on here has said the word vaccine yet. I still meet parents who have more faith in Jenny McCarthy than medical science.

And no, you absolutely cannot compare someone with autism to someone with ADHD or back issues. Such a statement reflects a misunderstanding of the issue at hand. An older child with a more severe case of autism could become a very real danger to him or herself and others in an emergency situation.

note; part of this was cut/paste from my posts in our discussion at coasterbuzz of the same topic.

Psycopathology? So whats your over all field? Psychology? Speech Path over here. You are right this topic is of unique interest to me. I am thinking of some of my kids I work with. When they are having a great day, they would have no problems on an E-Stop. But if they are having a bad day, man o man...

**when I am talking about children with Autism, I am usually looking at children with more severe cases.

If I am not mistaken the removal of Aspergers was to make Autism the one big catch all with 3 levels, low mid and severe correct?

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I'm a professor of clinical and abnormal psychology, but my therapeutic degree is a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy...and during my training I specialized in child/adolescent psychopathology...so now I teach courses in that as well as therapy and general mental illness...although my favorite course to teach is the Psychology of Humor. :) (hence the name...my research is in...well...humor.)

And you're correct; the idea was to make the diagnosis more inclusive, so when you hear that the rates of autism are skyrocketing, it does not mean that there is suddenly "more" of this disorder, there is simply more diagnosing going on for various reasons.

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It's a no win for the park. After seeing what some people have been doing at Disneyland and Disney World. I am happy Kings Island has something in place to stop that.

That was my first thought at reading this, it came right on the heels of that disclosure.

I have no personal family experience with autism, only a few friends that have children that have it.

If the subject doesn't know he's in virtual line for the ride, i.e., with a distraction like was posted above, it would seem as if the subject was getting right on the roller coaster, wouldn't it?

It's a shame that a few grifters had to bungle the works.

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I hope everyone also realizes that this unification and adherence to the system is almost certainly based out of California where the news has been on fire with these people who hired disabled tour guides to get them priority access at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. In response, Disney tightened up its GAC (Guest Assistance Card) policies. Knott's Berry Farm announced that it would strictly implement this system (which was in place, but loosely enforced) and sounds like Cedar Fair just thought it prudent to spread the love.

(Disney's response, by the way, was that the GAC - which used to be valid for two months - would now only be valid for two weeks. What didn't change is that a disabled person can have up to six accompanying guests. To me, reducing that number and checking valid IDs for suspicious repeats / different accompanying people each time is the only way to really guard against abuse.)

The problem in that Disney case was that so many millions upon millions of people visit Disney parks each year, that a huge number would get GAC passes for bad knees, sore backs, inability to walk miles upon miles a day, etc. which is understandable. I travel often with a friend who has terrible knees, and usually about halfway through a day at a zoo or park, she rents a wheelchair and therefore can't maneuver through many lines. Disney's policy which was being so abused would allow her and six friends to immediately pass to the front of the line.

This "virtual queue" accessibility pass that Cedar Fair is trying is fair and appropriate for people with physical impairments, too. For her and others with the same conditions, it's a reasonable accommodation to say she has to wait, but can do it elsewhere. For those with ASD, it raises issues. But as someone who works extensively with individuals with disabilities, I can tell you that any system they used would leave someone out. These cases would, ideally, be dealt with individually. That's practically impossible.

P.S. Cedar Fair's boarding pass style is basically the stuff of Q-Bots, just done on paper and pencil.

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Unfortunately this is one of those "no win" situations. No matter how hard you try, you will always end up offending someone at some point, and it turns into a PR nightmare when those offended become vocal about it and try to spin it into a "you're not being sensitive to my issues" story rather than trying to see why the park does things the way it does.

The old policy that Gordon described seems great on the surface, but it's a huge logistical problem. Two different employees might evaluate the same situation in completely different ways, and, as others have pointed out, a lot could also depend on the environment - if the child is having a good day it may seem like a mild learning disability, while on other days the severity of the autism might be much more visible. It's also very difficult for ride ops and managers - they have to remember the specific policies for each pass, all while trying to pay attention to the ride and ensure they don't overlook their normal responsibilities, especially when the "driver" is the one doing the evaluation (since they're often the most experienced of the employees currently working at a ride, though this varies depending on the specifics of each ride). On top of that, some people with disabilities may feel that you're not treating them fairly - someone in a wheelchair who has trouble walking has to return in 30 minutes but someone else can ride immediately without a designated wait time.

The new policy clears up a lot of the issues with the old one. Everyone with a disability is now treated equally, so there's no more confusion about which policy goes with which pass, no possible problems with two employees diagnosing a situation differently, etc. While it unfortunately does cause problems for people with severe autism, it's much simpler for the park to do things this way. I'm sure the park, with enough advance notice, would still be willing to work with families to ensure that they have the best possible experience (especially given Ouimet's emphasis on giving guests the "best day ever").

Getting back on topic here, it's hard to say what KI and CF can do differently in this situation without knowing all of the details from both sides of the story (something which we will likely never know). I do get tired of the "it's their fault because I didn't know about it" excuses, but I also get tired of the "it's on the website" excuse as well. Sure it's easy to put everything on the website. That way you can't say you didn't at least make an attempt to publicize the changes. However, not everyone visits websites, nor do those who do take the time to see what policies might have changed since they last read up on them. KI and CF need to evaluate this situation and figure out what (if anything) they can do differently in the future. I find it hard to believe that the park and CF have been all but useless in the area of addressing the concerns/complaints (under Kinzel I might have believed it, but certainly not under Ouimet!).

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I'm sure this has been said numerous times before in this thread, but to be honest, here's my $0.02 on the matter:

If a person has a case of autism (or ANY mental condition) that is so severe that waiting in line can cause them to have a meltdown, what happens when a ride malfunctions, and they're stuck on, let's say WindSeeker. Imagine it. A person with that sort of a mental condition, stranded 200-300 feet in the air for 10, 15, 30 minutes. Maybe even a couple hours. When the ride comes to a stop, the likelihood of a panic attack would logically seem to be exponentially multiplied. A panic attack that high in the air poses a safety hazard, not only for the person next to them, but especially for the person suffering with the condition. Now, I don't want to say the park should ban people from riding, but realistically, for certain rides, maybe it would be alright in the name of safety. I know many young children under 54 inches who are very upset when you tell them they aren't allowed to ride Diamondback. But in the end, it would be unsafe for them to do so. A less extreme, but more relatable example, it is frustrating if you wear flip flops that you must try to hold them to your feet on Diamondback. But if you were to be in a situation where you have to evacuate, having those flip flops is a necessity due to the potentially hazardous terrain on which you'd have to walk for the evacuation.

Parks don't make rules just for the heck of it. And the fact of the matter is, unless a ride is 100% safe for you in any tangible situation that may occur, you really, REALLY shouldn't be riding.

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I personally draw the line on what people can and cannot ride at the point at which a ride isn't 100% safe under any plausible circumstances.

People who have back problems shouldn't ride anything, because it may damage their back even worse.

People under 54 inches shouldn't ride Diamondback, because the restraints may not be sufficient.

People who are mentally unable to cope with potentially being trapped on a lift hill should not ride anything with a lift hill, because it could always break down.

People with Achluophobia should not ride Flight of Fear, because they'll be stuck in the dark for 2 minutes.

People who are heavily intoxicated and thin enough to wriggle out of restraints shouldn't ride Flight Commander.

If the first four examples didn't hit home, I would certainly hope the last one did.

That's where I personally draw my lines. If it is totally safe for someone to ride no matter what circumstances may arise, then I am all for making any and every accommodation to allow them to do so. And while I'm all for freedom of choice and social Darwinism, the fact of the matter is, if riding a ride will put someone in a dangerous situation, then Kings Island needs to tell them they can't. Because if the unthinkable does happen, we live in an age in which a lawsuit is sure to follow. And if that happens, and it's bad enough, we could be left with no more Kings Island. Now ultimately, it isn't my decision. Kings Island and its lawyers will decide how to handle any given situation. I'm not trying to be hard on people. I want everyone to have an enjoyable day at Kings Island. And while I feel that every ride at KI is 100%, totally safe for me to ride, if you have certain mental or physical conditions, it may not be safe for you. And as much as I LOVE roller coasters, I would never in a million years put my health or safety on the line to ride one, and I would be even less likely to encourage anyone else to do so.

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That depends - Could a situation occur within a reasonable realm of possibility that would put you at a high risk of a dangerous situation?

Ultimately, there are different levels of almost every disability. And if your case of scoliosis is bad enough that riding the rides at Kings Island puts you in harm's way, then you probably shouldn't. But your case is different than some that we've discussed, particularly the more severe mental disabilities. Ultimately, Scoliosis is purely physical, having no effect on your cognitive process. You know the risks and you understand what you're getting yourself into. And ultimately, if you get on a ride that could be hazardous given your condition, then you would have only yourself to blame if something went haywire and somehow escalated your condition.

Mental disabilities are a bit different. Depending on the severity, the cognitive process might be affected. And at the very, very least, Kings Island NEEDS to make absolutely sure that anyone with a disability (or their caretakers in the case of a very severe mental disability) knows and understands the risk involved in riding. You are an adult who understands your condition and can make your own decisions accordingly. Not everyone with a disability is fortunate enough to be able to say that.

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I bring up my scoliosis because of this quote.

People who have back problems shouldn't ride anything, because it may damage their back even.

As for people with extreme mental disabilities, you can't really ban them from riding a ride "just in case." Just think of how ugly it might get when they want to ride WindSeeker, when they know they've ridden it before, and can't because it "might" break down. You might as well let them ride WindSeeker because you're more likely to get off safe and sound rather than stranded 300' in the air.

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I bring up my scoliosis because of this quote.

People who have back problems shouldn't ride anything, because it may damage their back even.

As for people with extreme mental disabilities, you can't really ban them from riding a ride "just in case." Just think of how ugly it might get when they want to ride WindSeeker, when they know they've ridden it before, and can't because it "might" break down. You might as well let them ride WindSeeker because you're more likely to get off safe and sound rather than stranded 300' in the air.

On the first point, I was just making examples, and was really referring to more extreme cases.

And on the second, I do agree to an extent. Ultimately, it's a VERY tricky situation with no clear-cut answer. I mentioned educating people and making sure everyone understands the risks, and that's probably the most beneficial thing to do without stepping on toes. But when you start saying "A, B, and C are potentially dangerous aspects of this ride for people with X, Y, or Z condition", it becomes very tricky to pull off from a PR standpoint. It's a bad deal for everyone involved, with no good way to spin it.

Now, heavily intoxicated people SHOULD absolutely be banned from riding everything until they sober up. But that's another debate for another day.

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Guest Department47

People who are heavily intoxicated and thin enough to wriggle out of restraints shouldn't ride Flight Commander.

I've posted it on these forums before, but Candy Taylor's death can be attributed to several factors, primarily a faulty vehicle and restraint design. Her intoxication, although it played a minor role in the incident, was the smallest of problems.

You might as well let them ride WindSeeker because you're more likely to get off safe and sound rather than stranded 300' in the air.

Yes, you are more likely to get off safe-and-sound in a reasonable time period. But there's no guarantee that you'll get off in the three or so minutes you're supposed to, as there's always the chance that you may be stranded up there for an excessive amount of time. Although unlikely, the park must always ask "what if" and respond properly.

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I just happened to think of this topic today while driving my car 3 mph for a few blocks, I will explain. We took the kids out for dinner tonight and then stopped at a playground when I noticed a boy around 12 years old running around naked so I told everyone to stay in the car. I asked him if he was o.k and he said he needed a ride home and I told him I would follow him home in my car while he walked the sidewalk (he knew how to get home). He then started yelling at me to stop following him after a block ( I could tell he was going to freak out any moment) so I gave him some distance but never for a second was I going to let him out of my sight. He finally walked into a house and I pulled up and spoke to his neighbor who said he has autism and she was going inside with him, I guess his family was out looking for him. I hope I did things right but I was thinking about this topic and was wondering how the people here who know a lot about autism would have responded?

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Dude you did a great thing. There is not much you can do in that situation. You are a stranger with a naked child. Its a very bad situation to be in. A child with Autism can know how to get home (one of my severe students, I found out, rides his bike for hours at a time).

I mean the only other thing you could have done, was maybe called the police non-emergency number?

EDIT: The non-emergency police line would be more to just let them know what was going on and to cover your butt. All you needed was someone to call the police on you and your family for following a naked child home as he screamed dont follow me. I have learned that when helping other people's children you need to make sure you are covered just in case someone observes and doesnt understand what is exactly happening.

Edited by shark6495
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