Dynamic Disabilities: From Accommodations to Accessibility

43: Ariel, Stef, and return guest Maria delve into the intricacies of hosting a play therapy conference at Disneyland, focusing on accommodations for dynamic disabilities. They discuss the unique challenges and rewards of planning such an event in a magical setting. They emphasize the importance of inclusivity, accommodations, and the evolving nature of disability services at Disney. They also explore the distinctions between ask culture and guess culture, the impact of ableist assumptions, and practical strategies for integrating play-based interventions for disabled children and adults.

Register for the “Play Therapy: Disney Bound” taking place at Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel from March 10th-15th, 2025 here:


Register for the “The Supportive Innovations for Therapeutic Heroes Conference (S.I.T.H.)” taking place at Las Cruces Convention Center, New Mexico from September 26th-28th, 2024 here:



Summary of HPOE 43:

  • Introduction and Terminology (0:00): Ariel, Stef, and Maria introduce Episode 43 and define the key terms of ableism, DEIB, and dynamic disabilities to prepare listeners for the discussion.
  • Meet the Hosts & Guest (1:26): Ariel, Stef, and Maria introduce themselves and discuss their professional backgrounds.
  • Maria’s Inspiration and Conference Challenges (2:53): Maria shares her inspiration for choosing Disneyland as the venue for her play therapy conference. She discusses the unique challenges and rewards of planning an event in a magical setting.
  • Ask Culture vs. Guess Culture (10:01)” The conversation shifts to the importance of asking questions in personal and professional contexts. The trio explores the concepts of ask culture and guess culture and their impacts on event planning.
  • Dynamic Disabilities and Accommodations (16:58): Maria explains the concept of dynamic disabilities and their fluctuating nature. The group discusses the importance of accommodations and the evolving policies of Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS).
  • Disney’s DAS Program and Challenges (21:21): The discussion delves into recent changes to Disney’s DAS program, including the new pre-registration process and the impact of these changes on visitors with disabilities.
  • Play-Based Interventions (41:03): The hosts discuss play-based interventions for individuals with disabilities, highlighting the importance of creating inclusive play environments catering to children and adults.
  • Hosting at Disneyland: Tips and Reflections (47:49): Maria shares practical advice on hosting events at Disneyland, emphasizing early planning and clear communication. She reflects on the success of her play therapy conference and announces details for the next event.
  • Closing Thoughts and Future Plans (51:59): The episode concludes with reflections on the discussed topics, the importance of continuing advocacy for disability rights, and excitement for future events and conferences.

00:00 – 00:02
Is episode 43 of happiest pot on earth.

00:02 – 00:09
On this episode, we are going to be using some, very specific terminology that we would like to define for you ahead of time

00:09 – 00:13
so when you listen you can feel more prepared. The first term is ableism.

00:13 – 00:22
Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior.

00:23 – 00:29
At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require fixing and defines people by their disability.

00:30 – 00:38
The second term is diversity. Diversity simply means the differences between people, and equity is about securing everyone’s

00:38 – 00:40
access to the same opportunities and resources.

00:41 – 00:47
Inclusion, which is another term that we use, creates a welcoming and respectful environment, and belonging is the feeling

00:47 – 00:50
of being accepted and part of a community.

00:50 – 00:58
Another term is dynamic disability. A dynamic disability is a condition or impairment that can change in severity and impact over time.

00:59 – 01:05
This can include periods of remission or exasperation or symptoms that fluctuate throughout the day.

01:05 – 01:12
People with dynamic disabilities may experience good days, bad days that are unpredictable, which can make it difficult to

01:12 – 01:14
manage their symptoms and plan for the future.

01:26 – 01:29
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the happiest pod on Earth. I’m Steph.

01:29 – 01:35
I’m an educator who uses passions and fandoms to help my students grow and learn about themselves and the world around them.

01:35 – 01:42
And I’m Ariel, a licensed therapist who uses clients’ passions and fandoms to help them grow and heal from trauma and mental illness.

01:42 – 01:49
I’m Maria. I’m a marriage and family therapist and a registered play therapist who pulls from pop culture to normalized mental health and therapy.

01:49 – 01:53
And here at Happiest Pod, we dissect Disney mediums with a critical lens. Why?

01:53 – 01:56
Because we are more than just fans and we expect more from the mediums we consume.

01:57 – 01:58
So everybody, what are we talking about today?

01:59 – 02:08
Well, we have a very special guest on our podcast today, an old friend, I guess you can say, because we have had her on our podcast before.

02:08 – 02:15
We have Maria who is, a wonderful person, human being, and very talented in what she does.

02:15 – 02:22
I am in awe of everything, that she has accomplished, and, I had so much fun the last time I saw her because the last time

02:22 – 02:26
I we saw her was at the parks. So Yeah. Yeah.

02:26 – 02:33
Yeah. Thank you guys so much for having me back, and thanks for coming and playing with me at Disney.

02:33 – 02:35
I mean, there’s no there’s no better work day than

02:35 – 02:36
a day at Disney.

02:36 – 02:39
You really have to pull our hair to, like, go there.

02:39 – 02:44
We’re just like, I don’t know about this one. That’s such a big ask. Oh, good. Ask.

02:44 – 02:46
I had to leave work. Oh my goodness.

02:46 – 02:53
So, Maria, I’m curious. What inspired you to choose Disneyland as the venue of your play therapy conference?

02:53 – 03:00
And were there any unique challenges and rewards that you encountered in having the magical place be the location

03:00 – 03:11
of your conference? Sure. I mean, when we think about play, and the 3 of us being, Disney adults, fan adults, I mean, there’s

03:11 – 03:15
really not a better place than the parks to go and play. Right?

03:16 – 03:24
And so really the the idea behind the conference was how do I integrate play back into the learning? I’m old.

03:24 – 03:30
I used to attend conferences when they were fun. That stopped happening.

03:30 – 03:37
You know, and prior to the pandemic, and then since we’ve been back trying to do, like, learning in person again, I learn

03:37 – 03:40
best when I am fully, like, in it.

03:40 – 03:45
And nothing nothing completely captures my attention than anything Disney touches.

03:46 – 03:49
So, it was just it was a wild dream. It really was.

03:49 – 03:53
It was just kind of a, I wonder if this had ever happened.

03:54 – 03:55
And I was just like, well, what’s the

03:55 – 03:58
worst that’s gonna happen? Right? Like, we’re gonna put it out there.

03:58 – 04:02
Like, the worst day of this is still like a good day at Disney.

04:02 – 04:11
I mean, that’s a pretty safe that’s a pretty safe low bar for me to try it out with. Absolutely. Yeah. And so, like, it’s interesting.

04:11 – 04:14
So, I mean, I’ve done event planning before.

04:14 – 04:16
I do host a conference here in my hometown.

04:16 – 04:22
You you do kind of get to know the ins and outs of event hosting, and then there’s Disney. And then

04:22 – 04:31
there is Disney. Okay, so did they have challenges that they threw your way that you hadn’t experienced in your current experience of event hosting?

04:32 – 04:35
Not, not as many as I had anticipated, right?

04:35 – 04:42
I kind of went in thinking I’m a small, small little minnow fish in a very big pond. Right?

04:42 – 04:49
People who think about Disney events think, you know, big, huge corporation events. I am not that.

04:50 – 04:56
So I I think I went in with the anticipation that I was going to be kind of like, that’s cute.

04:56 – 04:59
He would like to do this, but like, maybe not.

05:00 – 05:02
And that wasn’t the case at all, right?

05:02 – 05:08
They were just, my event was just as important at, like, as, like, the next event coming in.

05:08 – 05:11
That was probably 10 times the size of our event.

05:12 – 05:20
I did not feel, yeah, I did not feel like we were patronized, we were not, you know, set aside, and they, I mean, it’s Disney.

05:21 – 05:26
I I had such a surreal experience of, like, rolling up to the hotel and taking my bags out.

05:26 – 05:35
I’m gonna go check-in, and I’m actually met at front door of someone who knows who I am and, like, walks me to my room, take

05:35 – 05:40
has my bags carried to my room for me, gone through, and, like, here’s a personal number.

05:40 – 05:47
If you need anything, you text this number, and we will respond to you. I was like, oh. Oh my goodness. Oh, okay. Okay.

05:47 – 05:49
Like, you know there’s just 30 of us. Right?

05:49 – 05:51
Like, this is not like a big, big thing.

05:52 – 05:54
You must have me confused or something.

05:54 – 05:55
I know. I know.

05:55 – 05:59
It’s serious. Like, talk about imposter syndrome. I’m sitting here. Me?

05:59 – 06:00
Is it for

06:00 – 06:10
me? Okay. So, no. I I think I think if anything, Disney was a venue that really surpassed my expectations, even even if it was Disney.

06:11 – 06:17
And they really did, unlike some of my local venues, they really did care about my, my event.

06:17 – 06:21
And the number did not seem to matter to them at all.

06:21 – 06:24
Every event there is important and special.

06:24 – 06:27
I love that. That’s like, that’s Disney magic right there. Right?

06:28 – 06:35
And I mean, I remember staying at the Grand Californian and being chosen as like family of the day.

06:35 – 06:36
I did not have kids at that point.

06:37 – 06:42
It was like me and my husband, and they chose us because we were staying there and it was our anniversary.

06:42 – 06:44
And I was like, are you sure?

06:44 – 06:48
It was the imposter syndrome thinking, are you do you have the right people?

06:48 – 06:53
Because we scrimped and saved to get these rooms because they were a pretty penny.

06:53 – 07:01
But yet you are giving me an autograph picture of Mickey and Minnie and, like, you, personalize, you know, all of our items inside the hotel room.

07:01 – 07:10
I think that’s just those little details that make honestly, make it worth it going and choosing them as a venue or choosing

07:10 – 07:17
them as a place to celebrate something, which, in this case, not much a celebration, but more of a learning experience, which

07:17 – 07:20
I think is very unique to use that as a venue.

07:20 – 07:26
I am, I guess you can say experience in doing event planning as well since I do it a lot for my school sites.

07:27 – 07:34
And I totally understand the just the struggle of finding a venue that will work with you and will have things prepared for you.

07:35 – 07:43
From the little time that I was there, at the play therapy conference, you had amazing servers who were just as charming as

07:43 – 07:51
the cast members in the parks, if not more, because, you know, they were interacting with you and making sure you had everything while you were hosting.

07:51 – 07:54
It was so charming and, you know, pixie dust everywhere.

07:54 – 07:59
If I could, you know, make a tangible, analogy to that.

07:59 – 08:07
But, on that note, for listeners who might be interested in hosting their own events at Disneyland, do you have any key do’s or don’ts?

08:07 – 08:09
Did you encounter anything that you were like, okay.

08:09 – 08:19
Maybe I don’t go this route, especially since you did more of a hybrid hotel plus downtown Disney plus park experience because

08:19 – 08:23
those are very big logistical things to juggle.

08:23 – 08:27
So, you know, if you can kind of just give our listeners some tips on that.

08:27 – 08:33
Yeah. Absolutely. Start early. Start early. Yes.

08:33 – 08:41
I mean, the the contracting process, right, like, there’s a process, and Disney has so many options for you to, like, choose. Right?

08:41 – 08:46
So going in blind for the first time, I didn’t know what all my options were. Rain.

08:46 – 08:52
You’re like, I want to do an event, and I have about this many people, and we’re gonna need hotel rooms, and I want park tickets. And I was like, cool.

08:52 – 08:58
Would you also like and it’s like, you know, Ladens’ genie is like rolling out the transcript of possible wishes.

08:58 – 09:00
I was like, would you also like any of these options?

09:01 – 09:08
So our last one, definitely felt very rushed at the end trying to get everything.

09:09 – 09:15
I have my new contract already signed now for next year. So start early, and ask ask.

09:16 – 09:22
My, my favorite thing was in meeting with Deb who was my connection for contracting, you know, she’s like, well tell me what

09:22 – 09:27
you would like, and then my, I would answer her back and go, what else should I be asking for?

09:28 – 09:30
What else are their options for me?

09:30 – 09:31
Beautiful question.

09:32 – 09:35
Yeah. Because they’re gonna tell you. Right?

09:35 – 09:37
This is this is what they do day in and day out.

09:37 – 09:45
So don’t limit yourself to what you think is possible because it’s Disney. Right? They’re gonna it’s it’s the TARDIS. It’s bigger on the inside.

09:45 – 09:49
As soon as you open the door, you have so many more options.

09:50 – 09:57
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s really interesting because recently there’s been this this trend or this theme in some of my sessions

09:57 – 10:01
where we talk about the difference between ask culture and guest culture.

10:01 – 10:03
Have you heard of this? Oh, interesting. No.

10:04 – 10:05
I agree.

10:05 – 10:05
Now that you say it.

10:05 – 10:06
You’ve there you go.

10:06 – 10:08
I mean, it it’s it’s making sense.

10:09 – 10:16
Yeah. Yeah. So, some people who have been raised in guest culture, and usually the demographics of individuals raised in this

10:16 – 10:21
culture are people in collectivist cultures or lower socioeconomic status Mhmm.

10:21 – 10:26
Or had, households where, we had to guess emotions.

10:26 – 10:31
So what that does is that means that we guess the answer.

10:31 – 10:36
So I won’t ask my friend to take me to the airport if I don’t think that they’ll say yes.

10:37 – 10:43
Or I won’t, ask my parents if I can spend the night at someone’s house if I think they’re in a bad mood.

10:43 – 10:44
That’s the one.

10:45 – 10:45

10:46 – 10:56
And people who have been raised in ask culture, they don’t even socialize to believe that, someone will say no, then it’s not a burden to even ask. Mhmm.

10:56 – 11:03
And that, when they’re saying yes, it’s because that they they genuinely have thought about it.

11:03 – 11:05
You don’t have to think about it for them.

11:05 – 11:06
Okay, interesting.

11:06 – 11:13
And so I could see myself as someone who was raised in guest culture because I was, you know, in a lower socioeconomic status

11:13 – 11:21
with just 1 parent household to 1 income household and, you know, living in a collectivist culture, like, ‘Okay, I believe Disney will say yes to this.

11:21 – 11:25
So I will only ask this and nothing more.

11:25 – 11:32
And here you are giving us a question that someone who’s in guest culture could use. What should I be asking? Right?

11:32 – 11:35
Because, I mean, the assumption is that they’ll answer that question.

11:35 – 11:38
But it isn’t a big ask of an ask.

11:39 – 11:49
Yeah. Exactly. Exactly what. And that, you know, I I would say I probably did not, I did not come from a guest culture background.

11:49 – 11:58
And only owning my privilege and owning that I am a white cishetero presenting female, that a lot of assumptions are made. Right?

11:58 – 12:03
And so I’m still very new at this part of my professional career.

12:04 – 12:13
I don’t know these answers, even though I can say, you know, I’ve planned, you know, 15 local events in my lifetime. Disney’s another level.

12:13 – 12:16
And each time I do something, right, we learn.

12:16 – 12:23
And one of the things I quickly learned was they know more than you know, and they don’t know what I don’t know.

12:24 – 12:24

12:24 – 12:30
So just ask them. Just ask them. Like, what should I be asking? What should I know about?

12:30 – 12:32
What are the options that maybe I have not considered?

12:33 – 12:41
And that’s true for event planning, that’s true for almost any experience when you go in novously and kind of renew. Right?

12:41 – 12:47
Whether that’s, being invited to write an article, whether that’s being invited to come to a podcast. Right?

12:47 – 12:50
Like, what, what should I be asking?

12:50 – 12:53
What don’t I know that you think maybe I should know?

12:53 – 12:54
What, what do I need to know?

12:54 – 12:56
What, what have I not been informed about?

12:56 – 13:03
I think that is a wonderful way to step into curiosity and says that you don’t have to know.

13:03 – 13:06
And I think that even keys back to like that imposter syndrome.

13:06 – 13:13
Like we feel like, again, we should know that guessing, I probably should already be at this level to even be allowed.

13:13 – 13:21
Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Like who, what audacity did I have to think that I could pull off an event planning at Disney?

13:23 – 13:30
Right, I was like no, like and like what’s the worst that’s gonna happen? Right?

13:30 – 13:35
If we don’t ask, I’m gonna miss out, and the people coming are gonna miss out.

13:35 – 13:39
The worst that’s gonna happen is they’re gonna tell me, oh Maria, that’s that’s too far.

13:39 – 13:41
No, that’s not that’s not a possibility.

13:41 – 13:42
So it’s too close to the sun.

13:42 – 13:48
Right? Yeah. Absolutely. And contracting with them again for this next one, I already had.

13:48 – 13:52
So here’s my next question, like, list of questions now that I’ve done it once. Right?

13:53 – 13:58
I was wondering if these things are possible, and and some of them are like, yeah. Absolutely.

13:58 – 14:01
And others were like, oh, we’ve never had that question asked before.

14:02 – 14:07
Let me go look into it and maybe it’s a no, but maybe it’s a yes.

14:07 – 14:15
Yeah. Why not ask? I think as you were both were talking, when we’re thinking of Disneyland and Play, we always talk about

14:15 – 14:17
how we’re going back to our childhood, right?

14:17 – 14:23
And when I’m thinking about younger kids versus older kids in, like, middle school, when you’re in a class full of younger

14:23 – 14:29
kids, you’re constantly getting questions, rapid fire questions because they won’t stop. They’re curious about everything.

14:30 – 14:36
But if you realize as you get into upper education, the questions lessen because everyone’s too shy, or they’re just trying

14:36 – 14:38
to guess, or they already have their presumptions.

14:38 – 14:46
And so I think it’s very interesting that we’re kind of going back into play and thinking of play and thinking like a child and saying, hey.

14:46 – 14:54
If I were a 6 year old wanting to play at the parks, and they have one goal is to do play at the parks with their friends,

14:54 – 14:59
they would ask the questions necessary in order to make that happen. Where can I play?

14:59 – 15:01
I mean, even not even what would I wear?

15:01 – 15:03
I don’t think a 6 year old would ask what would I wear?

15:03 – 15:05
I’m just gonna wear whatever I want to wear. But

15:05 – 15:09
But I think like, like, when I see 6 year olds, can I touch that?

15:09 – 15:12
And it’s like, as an adult, it’s like, no, don’t even ask. But it’s

15:12 – 15:13
like, maybe.

15:15 – 15:19
Yeah. Can I climb that? Or my body is asking you because I’m already doing it.

15:19 – 15:23
So are you gonna tell me no, or you’re just gonna let me do this?

15:23 – 15:25
So, yeah, I think it’s really interesting.

15:25 – 15:31
You know, as we get older, we ask less questions because we are so much more presumptuous as to what the answer is.

15:31 – 15:37
But in reality, we can ask the more complex questions to get a more direct answer.

15:38 – 15:42
So it’s kind of just doing that little switch, and it’ll benefit us.

15:42 – 15:47
I mean, look at what fruitful things came from the play therapy conference.

15:47 – 15:53
I mean, everybody I met was just having the time of their lives, and it was so great. I loved it.

15:53 – 16:01
I think going back to like, why we don’t ask the questions, I think there also is this, like, I’m supposed to already know, Right?

16:01 – 16:06
Like, if I reach out to Disney to host an event there, I should already somehow magically know

16:06 – 16:06

16:07 – 16:11
All the ins and outs and pieces. And how to right?

16:11 – 16:17
And, like, how to read how to read a 68 page contract and know what I am signing my life way to.

16:17 – 16:23
And so being able to be very vulnerable and open and being like, this is a giant leap for me.

16:24 – 16:27
Can we kind of talk through these things?

16:27 – 16:35
Here are the questions I have, but also, like, what am I not asking that maybe, like, the other players who’ve done this before have asked and was helpful?

16:35 – 16:46
With the and shifting just a little bit, you have on the new form, and you did in the original form for people who are signing up, request for accommodations.

16:47 – 16:50
And I know that you’re doing a presentation in Virginia on dynamic disabilities.

16:50 – 16:58
So I was wondering if you could talk about accommodations, disabilities, and what that was like for with Disney, like for the conference. Sure. Yeah.

16:58 – 17:01
Yeah, absolutely. I’m happy you talked about this.

17:01 – 17:08
I will share my definition and kind of use of the term dynamic disabilities, and we can kind of go from there.

17:08 – 17:20
So I use the term dynamic disabilities really to be an umbrella term of, health issues, mental health, physical health issues that are often invisible.

17:20 – 17:26
So there’s not like a visible outward sign. The dynamic piece comes from it. It fluctuates.

17:26 – 17:33
The impact, the intensity, my ability to function fluctuates without cause or without notice.

17:33 – 17:42
When it comes to a dynamic disability, I think, there’s a lot of management and there are, like, some days that are good and some days that are bad.

17:42 – 17:47
And, it is not a consistent experience.

17:47 – 17:55
And for those who have never had a disability or been disabled, sometimes the way that media presents a disability is it’s fixed.

17:56 – 17:59
It’s like one way of experiencing every single day.

18:00 – 18:03
And they don’t see a spectrum of experiences.

18:04 – 18:13
And so I think the other component with the dynamic is that, the individual themselves may not be able to predict, like, if

18:13 – 18:19
it’s, quote, unquote, a good day or a bad day, what accommodations I might need, today versus tomorrow.

18:19 – 18:29
Something else that the audience, could be aware of is, when it comes to disabilities, some people will use person first language. Some people use identity first language.

18:29 – 18:35
And so person first would be someone with a disability, because we’re putting them in front of the sentence.

18:36 – 18:41
Although some of the community has identified their disability as an identity and Mhmm.

18:41 – 18:48
Would prefer to be identified as disabled or, or by their actual disability.

18:48 – 18:55
Now, that as clinicians and I think even Stef as educators, we let the person tell us, like, which they prefer to use. Mhmm.

18:56 – 19:03
Yeah. And I think using the word dynamic is more in tune with how we live day to day, whether or not you are dealing with a disability.

19:03 – 19:05
Because not every single day is the same.

19:06 – 19:11
Not every single day we’re, waking up the same way, approaching things the same way as before.

19:11 – 19:13
We can try to get close to that.

19:13 – 19:22
But as dynamic people who are unlearning, learning things, constantly, it’s I feel more in tune to what real life is as opposed

19:22 – 19:27
to like what Ariel says, what what is projected to us through, you know, pop culture and how they portray disabilities.

19:28 – 19:33
Yeah. Absolutely. Or just the expectation that if you can do it once, you can do it every day here on out. Right?

19:33 – 19:40
And it’s like, well, that’s not real life. We’re not still art. Yeah.

19:40 – 19:44
You know, I could have could have had a rough day the day before, a bad night’s sleep the night before. Right?

19:44 – 19:48
Like, in general, I think we all live dynamic lives, and

19:48 – 19:49
it is just a nice way to

19:49 – 19:58
kind of view that. With dynamic disabilities, you know, it’s, it is becoming, at least for me, it’s becoming a real focus

19:58 – 20:04
of presenting, talking about, educating people about, I live with my own.

20:05 – 20:11
I work with wonderful professionals who are working with their own, and we are trying to navigate the systems, the best we

20:11 – 20:18
can while while while looking fine, even on some of our worst days.

20:19 – 20:19

20:20 – 20:28
So, yeah, so I it’s very intentional that my registration form has, you know, do you have any of these accommodations? Yes.

20:28 – 20:34
Participants could easily reach out to the Disneyland Hotel themselves and say, here, here’s what I need. Here are the accommodations. What are my options?

20:35 – 20:41
And part of my hostess persona says, I also want to know. Right?

20:41 – 20:48
Because if you made those accommodations on on the side and I’m not looped in, then I can’t also be on the lookout and and

20:48 – 20:52
making my own accommodations for you, and just being prepared.

20:53 – 21:01
Yeah. For for those things. And that’s the communication piece that is, you know, hyper focused on when you are hosting because

21:01 – 21:06
you are constantly communicating with every single person, making sure they’re okay, and that’s a really big undertaking.

21:07 – 21:14
But speaking of constants and people wanting to view a certain way or having parameters that are set, I know recently, there

21:14 – 21:21
has been changes to the Disney’s disability Access Services at Disneyland. It’s a very sticky situation.

21:21 – 21:28
I think, you know, speaking for myself and looking at it as a person that doesn’t need these accommodations, And for the folks,

21:28 – 21:37
who use acronyms, this is the DOS system that, folks with disabilities use to access the parks and enjoy their day in a way that suits them.

21:38 – 21:41
And I guess it’s a question for both, you know, Maria and Ariel as clinicians.

21:42 – 21:46
How do you think these changes have impacted visitors, have been impacting visitors?

21:47 – 21:56
And, just seeing how it is already a big undertaking to be at a very busy theme park with a lot of moving parts.

21:57 – 22:01
How do you think it affects them and even future conference attendees for you, Maria?

22:01 – 22:03
I love that. Ariel, do you wanna

22:03 – 22:07
go? No. You go ahead first. You’re our guest. Be our guest.

22:09 – 22:13
I think I think that it’s I think it’s going to continue to move. Right?

22:13 – 22:20
Like, I don’t have a full understanding that this is where it’s going to land and be permanently, you know, the new system and the new restrictions.

22:21 – 22:27
I also think it’s a really big undertaking for an organization like Disney to have to, like, navigate all of this. Right?

22:28 – 22:39
Because they do really make efforts to to put comfort and people access first, and sometimes, they have to draw a line in

22:39 – 22:44
the sand and that that then it means an exclusionary criteria. Right?

22:44 – 22:52
But if you do not have these things, do do not show up in this way, then these accommodations are not easily accessible or even available to you any longer.

22:52 – 22:59
So my own, I am definitely watching, trying to keep a pulse, trying to really understand, like, what these new limitations

23:00 – 23:08
are going to translate for, and also trying to look at it from my own perspective of, like, that that may even I I am not

23:08 – 23:18
I did not participate in the DOS, services before, but I was being kind of told, like, you should kind of consider this with your with your own physical stuff.

23:18 – 23:21
Like, this might be really, really beneficial to you.

23:21 – 23:27
And so to just start like that process and for it to then immediately change and like, oh, I don’t think I know, I don’t think

23:27 – 23:33
I qualify any longer based on these new limitations, and restrictions, and requirements.

23:35 – 23:43
So right now, I’m still in the learning, learning the new dance, so to speak, and then being able to get an understanding

23:43 – 23:49
so that I can then translate it to people who are coming and who might have questions about what the new restrictions and limitations are.

23:50 – 23:55
Yeah. I think you point out something very important. This is changing. It is evolving.

23:55 – 24:04
So, even by the release of probably this episode, there may be new updates but what we do know is that Disney did release,

24:04 – 24:08
well, first that it the new, criteria started in May.

24:09 – 24:17
And that Disney released a list of, like, diagnoses that they, I guess, felt were more that needed more of the accommodation of the DOS program.

24:17 – 24:21
And, those diagnoses were ADHD, anxiety and autism.

24:21 – 24:30
So the community had already, been on the alert because, of the fact that it was like these and these only.

24:30 – 24:34
Then they they specifically said developmental or cognitive disabilities.

24:35 – 24:40
And that then would exclude individuals who need accommodations that are physical.

24:41 – 24:48
And then as things started rolling out, it was the fact that there was a pre registration process, and you have to do it 30 days before your visit.

24:48 – 24:54
They are no longer allowing, I think, in June for people to go into the city hall

24:54 – 24:55
to have the conversation. Okay.

24:56 – 25:03
So, that means that you have to have a plan to attend, later.

25:03 – 25:09
And if you are somebody who’s a magic key holder that could go anytime, you would have had to already have this set up.

25:09 – 25:12
The the praises are that it has extended

25:12 – 25:14
the amount of of having

25:14 – 25:17
it. Instead of 60 days, it’s 120 days. Right?

25:17 – 25:25
Once you if you are approved, the and that, there is more scrutiny happening because what the result of this was backlash

25:26 – 25:34
to influencers saying like, Hey, if you don’t want to pay for Genie plus and you want to skip the line, here’s the things you need to say. And

25:34 – 25:35
the hacks, essentially.

25:36 – 25:44
The hacks as it was presented, which meant that it adversely affected people who needed accommodation because of a disability.

25:44 – 25:52
Other things that have been, like, criticisms are the fact that, they are encouraging more people to use, like, someone to

25:52 – 25:54
hold a spot in line and you leave and return. Mhmm.

25:55 – 25:59
And if you are somebody who’s a wheelchair user, your spot in line might not be reversible.

25:59 – 26:05
You might not be able to back your wheelchair through or like with people standing there, right?

26:05 – 26:10
So there needs to be a space for your chair to go backwards or or whip around.

26:10 – 26:17
So that would need to be wide enough space as well as move through lines of people. Yeah.

26:17 – 26:26
And, other criticisms like people have already been sharing their stories where if they’re taking medication, for specifically

26:26 – 26:32
those who are experiencing cancer, if they’re taking medication that causes, like, a diuretic and they need to use the bathroom

26:32 – 26:42
repeatedly, having to leave their spot in line and find the bathroom maybe further away than if they had not had to be in the queue.

26:42 – 26:52
So where it pertains to me, because I have been using the DOS program, is that mine ended on, May 4th. Interesting.

26:53 – 26:55
Why would you have to end it on a day that

26:55 – 26:56
mattered to me? But okay, thanks.

26:56 – 27:07
And I have tried at least 5 times to get into the virtual queue to do my interview. The ads has cut out. It has the call has dropped.

27:07 – 27:10
I’ve never seen anyone on the video. Never.

27:10 – 27:15
All the calls are being transferred, I think, to, Florida representatives at Walt Disney World.

27:15 – 27:17
So, like, Disneyland doesn’t have their own.

27:17 – 27:26
And when they had changed the accommodations at Universal Studios, they had asked that you, like, upload documentation.

27:26 – 27:33
And so I did add my doctor upload documentation that requested my accommodations, and their system was clunky, and there’s,

27:33 – 27:34
like, a number you’re supposed to get.

27:34 – 27:37
It took a couple months, but, you know, now it’s good.

27:37 – 27:40
Disney will not take any doctor’s notes.

27:40 – 27:45
They will not take any, and it’s already hard to get a doctor note, but they won’t take any of that. It’s in the interview.

27:46 – 27:52
And the way that they ask the questions, they will they will say things like, well, if you get hot, you should get an ice

27:52 – 27:54
pack or you should get a cooling rag.

27:54 – 27:59
If you, need to use the bathroom repeatedly, you should just leave the line and come back.

27:59 – 28:02
Tell the person at the front that, you know, you’re leaving to do that.

28:02 – 28:04
And they’re trying to create a ticket system,

28:05 – 28:05

28:05 – 28:12
that hasn’t been fully implemented. So now hearing this and knowing dynamic disabilities, are you seeing where the clunkiness Yeah.

28:13 – 28:16
When Disney was the gold standard for accommodations? Yeah.

28:16 – 28:22
Yeah. Yeah. What a what a significant difference. Right?

28:22 – 28:26
I mean, you were sharing all that, and I was like, have they been to a park recently?

28:26 – 28:33
And, like, also, like, what ableist thinking are you harboring right there?

28:34 – 28:42
Right? 1, you know, I my experience in the parks, I’ve been with other people, my family, my spouse at least. Right? Like at least one other person.

28:42 – 28:48
The system that they’re encouraging would require you to you would always have to be with someone if you were to like because

28:48 – 28:54
strangers are lovely at times, but we’ve all seen those videos of, you know, Disney gone wrong. Mhmm.

28:54 – 28:55
The person, the stranger behind me

28:55 – 29:07
is not gonna stand there and hold my spot in line so that I can step out, take my insulin shot, and do what I need to do to, like, be able to come back. Like, that’s just not gonna happen. It’s not gonna happen.

29:07 – 29:16
And you’re basing this one other non medical professional is going to interview me and make the decision based on their own

29:16 – 29:23
personal opinion of my condition, whether or not I qualify for accommodation.

29:24 – 29:27
And the what, communities are saying, try again.

29:27 – 29:32
They’re like, the first person says no, try again, because the next person might say yes.

29:32 – 29:34
And that shows you lack of consistency with criteria.

29:35 – 29:35

29:36 – 29:37
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

29:37 – 29:38
As I was hearing

29:38 – 29:40
all this, I’m like, who what are

29:40 – 29:43
the qualifications to be somebody who’s taking these calls?

29:44 – 29:46
Is it somebody who has experienced these?

29:46 – 29:53
Do they have some sort of licensing or had to have they had any sort of, experience in dealing with that?

29:53 – 29:58
And if it’s a Florida representative, the parks over there are massive. They’re huge.

29:59 – 30:06
And, you know, I get that Disneyland is compact here, but Disney world, if you’re thinking of the different parks, there’s

30:06 – 30:09
so many other elements that are working against you.

30:09 – 30:17
Literally weather elements that could really, you know, stop a person with disabilities from enjoying the parks in the way that they want to.

30:17 – 30:24
So I think it this is just kind of, you know, when we’re talking about hospitality and the just the juxtaposition of how we

30:24 – 30:29
were talking about it earlier to now, the consistency isn’t there. And, you know,

30:29 – 30:30
we need to we

30:30 – 30:32
need to know and do better.

30:32 – 30:41
Yeah. I I think, one of the, things that we’ve seen online, specifically people with epilepsy and people with POTS, have been denied.

30:41 – 30:45
And they have complained that there is no way that they could do the return to Lyme.

30:45 – 30:52
And and again, the the individuals with POTS, they they can’t stay on for, long periods of time.

30:53 – 30:56
And so the statement was when you could use a wheelchair.

30:56 – 31:03
But again, if you need to use the bathroom, can your wheelchair go backwards in the queue? And, the queue moves.

31:03 – 31:07
So by the time you come back, you have new people in the queue are going, Why are you cutting us?

31:07 – 31:08
Why are you walking through?

31:08 – 31:12
Why why are you rolling through in in this wheelchair? Like, what what is this?

31:12 – 31:16
Because I certainly know that, people get so angry when you have a

31:16 – 31:23
line holder. Gosh. Do they ever? Even So I mean, our first experience taking the kids, they were littles. Right?

31:23 – 31:26
And so, like, one parent would Stef, the other parent would, like, run to the bathroom and come back.

31:26 – 31:30
Even then, right, you’d get, like, looks. I’m like, look. They are little.

31:30 – 31:31
They’re, like, 4 and 6 at that time.

31:31 – 31:34
Like, we are not we are not doing that.

31:35 – 31:44
And those of us with disabilities, like, we all carry our own, like, shame and awareness that everyone is talking about us. Everyone is making comments about this.

31:44 – 31:51
I go to the park with everything that I could possibly bring in with me to make sure I’m as least disruptive to everybody

31:51 – 31:57
else around me and can have my day in the best way that I can for myself.

31:57 – 32:07
And how utterly disgusting is it that the response is, we’ll bring an ice pack. I’m Oh, yeah. Sorry. We have our cooling racks. We have our fans. We have our drinks.

32:07 – 32:13
We we we do all the things to make sure that not only I’ll speak for myself.

32:13 – 32:15
It’s not just for so that I can have the best day possible.

32:15 – 32:22
It really is so that I minimize my impact on everybody else around me, which is a weight I should not be carrying in the first place.

32:22 – 32:35
But I do, and then to even then say, well I still need some accommodation. And to be like, well no. You can have a wheelchair. It’s not that’s not a solution. That’s not a solution.

32:35 – 32:42
No. I I really, I think you’re highlighting, like, that lived experience because I know for myself, first, it took a while

32:42 – 32:47
to even admit that I needed accommodations because I said I can bring all of these things. Right?

32:47 – 32:51
I can have my neck fit on. I can, bring extra medication. I can bring my EpiPen.

32:51 – 32:53
Like, I can I can do all that? I can do all that.

32:53 – 32:59
When it got to the point to admit that I needed accommodations, It was again, like, that imposture center.

33:00 – 33:02
Maybe I don’t or maybe other people need them more.

33:02 – 33:06
That that feeling of inconveniencing the able-bodied world.

33:07 – 33:07

33:08 – 33:13
And, and I know even for, for you Stef, because we’re talking about dynamic disabilities, pregnancy.

33:13 – 33:21
My goodness. Yeah. And, you know, it was funny because I did many things in my second pregnancy because my first pregnancy,

33:21 – 33:25
half of it was during the pandemic. So did nothing. I stayed at my house.

33:26 – 33:27
I didn’t have to experience these things.

33:27 – 33:34
But my second pregnancy being after the pandemic, I’m like, let me do it all. I need to be out there.

33:34 – 33:39
But my body was like, you are not the same as you were before the world shut down.

33:39 – 33:46
And even navigating I know this isn’t a park, but, when we went to Comic Con while I was 6 months pregnant Oh, sure.

33:46 – 33:53
I didn’t even think of accommodations for myself because I was like, I am just carrying a baby.

33:54 – 33:58
But that’s not how it should be viewed. I am carrying a baby.

33:58 – 34:12
I am literally growing a life inside of me, and I cannot do the things that other able-bodied people can do because I am literally not myself. I my body is exhausted. And

34:19 – 34:26
I should have And I should have accommodations so that I can do that comfortably without harming my body.

34:26 – 34:29
You know, thankfully, I was in a position where I didn’t have a high risk pregnancy.

34:30 – 34:37
But for other women who have high risk pregnancies, I don’t think they should be stopped from doing what they want to do comfortably

34:38 – 34:42
just because they are, you know, gonna be a mother.

34:42 – 34:51
And, you know, there has been so many stigmas with pregnant women and what they shouldn’t do, what they can’t do, all of these things.

34:51 – 35:01
And that totally plays into their mental well-being as their hormones are changing, as their brains are, you know, preparing

35:01 – 35:03
for this as they’re growing a life inside of them.

35:04 – 35:08
So I don’t recall being in Florida.

35:08 – 35:17
Actually, I was early on in my pregnancy, and there were some accommodations, and I had traveled with my parents who have disabilities.

35:17 – 35:22
You know, my mom gets tired really fast and, you know, she can’t be walking for a long time.

35:22 – 35:28
And my father has, he has had a kidney transplant. So he has He’s got

35:28 – 35:29
a million.

35:29 – 35:33
Yeah. He has, like, so many inside of him. He’s had many transplants.

35:33 – 35:41
And so, yeah, we were able to use a wheelchair for the both of them, but then it became an access issue where we were like,

35:41 – 35:52
do we pay for a more expensive wheelchair for all 4 days at the parks, or do we use a manual wheelchair where one of us would have to push?

35:53 – 36:03
And by one of us is my husband who is taking care of our toddler, me who is pregnant, or my mom who is not very strong in

36:03 – 36:06
her age to push my father in the wheelchair.

36:06 – 36:16
So now it becomes a social economic thing To where now the family has to decide, do I have dinner at Be Our Guest, or do I

36:16 – 36:19
use that money to pay for a wheelchair?

36:19 – 36:24
And, you know, those are really difficult decisions for families to make. It’s just Yeah.

36:25 – 36:26
Just to have a good day at the park.

36:26 – 36:34
Absolutely. I mean, it’s an expense and it’s such a plan heavy experience anyway. Right?

36:34 – 36:40
And then, yeah, do you try to play the wheelchair lottery and, like, be super early to be, like, the first one in to get one

36:40 – 36:44
that’s provided in the parks that you still have to pay for? Mhmm.

36:44 – 36:50
Or do you search for outside ones that can then be brought to you and pay for, you know, slightly more, but have your own

36:50 – 36:59
like, it’s, life is difficult enough for able-bodied individuals, let alone when those of us that, have disabilities of any

36:59 – 37:05
type, visible or invisible, to then just be like, well, you can just Yeah. Get a wheelchair.

37:05 – 37:08
You can just bring some ice packs.

37:08 – 37:16
You can just, you know, have someone else save your spot in line. Yeah. Yeah. That’s not real life. And if you jump through

37:16 – 37:23
if you jump through all of those hoops anyway, you still get to a ride like Peter Pan’s flight and say, we don’t use that accommodation here.

37:24 – 37:32
You have to use the regular line because this is an attraction that is excluded from those accommodations because it’s so popular.

37:32 – 37:37
So even if you do all of those things, you still have those restrictions.

37:37 – 37:37
And Mhmm.

37:37 – 37:40
You know, what if that was your favorite ride?

37:40 – 37:42
And what if that’s something that you absolutely wanted to do?

37:42 – 37:48
And now you have that sense of I’m not good enough to be on this ride. You know?

37:48 – 37:56
Your mind immediately goes to that because, as you said, folks with dealing, having to deal with these things are hyper aware already.

37:56 – 37:59
And so how can they not go to there?

37:59 – 38:00
Right. And I think when

38:00 – 38:08
it comes to, individuals who are non disabled, who haven’t experienced a disability, Why it’s important to continue to be

38:08 – 38:16
an advocate for disability rights, is because a lot of the disabled communities identified that technically we’re all pre disabled.

38:16 – 38:24
We are living so long now that at some point, we will develop a disability, like being hard of hearing, a disability of low

38:24 – 38:27
vision, a disability with walking and arthritis.

38:28 – 38:36
So the more that we fight for accommodations now and advocacy, the more we’re setting up our future success as well.

38:36 – 38:43
I think we’ve already identified the various ways in which the system, as it stands right now, is flawed.

38:43 – 38:46
And although, again, it’s like you said, a meno. We’re a little meno.

38:47 – 38:56
I hope that others can hear this podcast and see, like, why the accommodations the way they were may have been flawed, but we’re still a lot better. Mhmm.

38:56 – 39:05
Even with that 30 day rule, I it makes me think of Stef when we had, Comic Con and we had a panel and one of our panelists broke their leg. Did you?

39:05 – 39:10
And we had to scramble to get them a, ramp to be able to go on the stage. Yeah.

39:10 – 39:17
You know, hopefully, between now and your trip, you don’t develop something where you might wanna request those accommodations

39:18 – 39:20
because you should have been injured 30 days ago.

39:20 – 39:24
You should have known. You should have known you were going to break your leg.

39:24 – 39:29
Or like 1 Comic Con, I broke my wrist the day of Comic Con.

39:30 – 39:34
I had an accident on a bird scooter and the rest was history.

39:35 – 39:37
It was my arm, so I could still walk.

39:38 – 39:45
But even Ariel that day was like, you need to get it to Staple Press because you literally got hurt on the way to Comic Con.

39:45 – 39:49
And, yeah, that’s just something that I did not even think about.

39:50 – 39:55
I think going full circle in what we’re talking about earlier, why not ask? Just ask.

39:55 – 39:56
Just ask.

39:56 – 39:59
Because what is the worst that could happen? You know? Mhmm. You’ll get denied.

40:00 – 40:03
And in the case of the DOS system, keep asking. Yes.

40:03 – 40:09
If you are somebody who is, you know, affected by these policy changes, keep asking.

40:09 – 40:15
Let them know that what is happening is not, it’s just not flexible for everyone.

40:16 – 40:20
It’s not equitable for everyone because now everything is so nuanced.

40:20 – 40:28
We are having dynamic disabilities, dynamic, you know, experiences, and that if they want to continue to be the hospitality

40:28 – 40:35
gold standard, that, you know, every voice that leads needs to be heard and even though it is such a big undertaking.

40:35 – 40:43
I mean, that’s not to say that there are not people who are willing to work for, you know, equity in this space. Absolutely.

40:44 – 40:48
Absolutely. I mean, we’re very used to jumping through the hoops put in front of us. Mhmm.

40:48 – 40:54
As long as we know that there are hoops to be jumped through and that there’s a possible, like, relief on the other side.

40:55 – 40:56
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

40:56 – 41:03
Now, I know, you were on an episode with us originally, episode 35, unlocking the healing powers of play.

41:03 – 41:06
And your conference at Disney was a play conference.

41:06 – 41:13
In having this conversation around disabilities and accommodations, what are some play based interventions for children and

41:13 – 41:23
adults with disabilities or accommodations to shift and change your mindset so that you can have play based interventions that are more dynamic? I love that.

41:23 – 41:29
I would go so far as I don’t know that there are specific interventions, but people in our professions to start adapting,

41:29 – 41:34
which is just kind of the this ableist lens, right?

41:34 – 41:38
So in play therapy, well in play in general, right?

41:38 – 41:43
When we talk about playing with kids, whether you’re a babysitter, whether you’re a teacher, whether you’re whether you’re

41:43 – 41:54
a play therapist, the idea I’ve I’ve heard clinicians tell this to parents that come in, like, get on the floor and play with your kids. Guess what? No. No.

41:55 – 42:01
And so being able to just adopt this lens of it’s okay to not play on the floor.

42:02 – 42:08
Play that’s on a table, play that is movement based, play that it looks different is still valuable.

42:08 – 42:14
There’s no difference in the value of play based on how you’re playing. Mhmm.

42:15 – 42:22
And we can set those accommodations for ourselves as practitioners, as educators, as the professional in the room, and we

42:22 – 42:29
can make those accommodations for the parents and the children that come into our rooms. 8, because I think there is this

42:29 – 42:39
idea that if you’re not able to get down on the floor and plan, and you’re not doing your job, and that is such an ableist viewpoint. Right?

42:39 – 42:46
Because, I mean, I could get down, but I’m gonna do some significant trauma to my client if they have to see me, like, flail

42:46 – 42:51
around on the floor because I cannot get back up. That is more damaging than helpful.

42:53 – 42:56
And it’s just diminishing my value as a practitioner.

42:57 – 43:05
If I can’t do it your way, then it’s not valued. We’re not doing that. It is 2024. We’re not doing that anymore. Right?

43:05 – 43:15
And so being able to look at play, families, kids in a lens of what accommodations do you need? Mhmm.

43:15 – 43:20
And and what can I provide to you knowing that, like, our space is limited, our funding is limited?

43:20 – 43:24
But like sometimes it’s just permission to not get on the floor.

43:24 – 43:29
Just permission to be able to say, I would much rather like, can I stand while we talk?

43:29 – 43:37
Because that’s much more comfortable than than sitting in this chair. Right? I was talking earlier today.

43:37 – 43:42
I think we’re making great strides in terms of accommodating children. Right?

43:42 – 43:45
There’s lots of fidgets now and hard candies and, like, body socks. Right?

43:45 – 43:50
Like, we’re making accommodations for kids with sensory needs and neurodiverse needs.

43:51 – 43:56
That needs to be extended to adults and professionals as well. Right?

43:57 – 44:02
I know in our conference, even at Disney, there were times where, you know, you’d see people stand up and, like, move to the

44:02 – 44:09
back of the room to, like, have some movement in their day and, like, you know, stretch the bodies however they needed to. Right? And just like permission giving. Right?

44:09 – 44:14
Like, do what you need to to take care of yourself. Right? It’s it’s so, so important.

44:15 – 44:22
It goes back to, like, you know, even Ariel, what what you’re saying is, like, it takes us a long time to even be honest about what we need ourselves.

44:22 – 44:23

44:23 – 44:29
Right? And so even just opening the door of, like, this is my typical room setup, but if it would be more helpful for you

44:29 – 44:36
or more comfortable for you, you know, I have this other seating option, or we could go outside and walk around, or we could stand.

44:36 – 44:43
It was just kind of opening the door because often we’re not honest with ourselves about what we need or what would be helpful, right?

44:43 – 44:48
We’re, we’re so used to like gridding it and just getting through, not being a burden to anybody else.

44:49 – 44:56
So putting on that lens and then just opening the door of, like, you know, I have giant fluorescent lights on, but I can also

44:56 – 44:57
turn them off and turn on lamps.

44:58 – 45:02
And I’ll have that set up and have a kid come in and say, why is it so dark in here?

45:02 – 45:04
I can turn on the bright lights, right?

45:04 – 45:10
Like, kids kids have much less shame of asking for what they need and what they want than themselves do.

45:11 – 45:13
Along the way, it is beaten out of us.

45:13 – 45:19
And so part of this is just an invitation to, like, you know, if there is something that I can do within my space to make

45:19 – 45:23
this an easier situation and a better learning experience for you, please let me know.

45:23 – 45:25
And if it’s in my power, I’m gonna I’m gonna do that.

45:26 – 45:30
And extending that that grace and kindness to ourselves as professionals.

45:31 – 45:35
You know, if I’m presenting all day, I don’t wanna stand for 8 hours.

45:35 – 45:38
My body, if I do that, and I could do that. Right?

45:38 – 45:43
Like, I could push myself to do that thing for you, and then I’m gonna spend 2 days in recovery. Mhmm.

45:43 – 45:44
And I

45:44 – 45:46
don’t think I wanna do that. Yeah. Right?

45:46 – 45:48
So can I can I sit down for part of it?

45:48 – 45:51
Can we do a movement based activity for part of it?

45:52 – 45:55
Can I lay down on the ground, put my feet up on the wall for a little bit?

45:55 – 46:01
Because then tomorrow, I’m gonna be a better version of myself than if I had not done these things for me.

46:01 – 46:10
And that doesn’t it should not deduct from my personal and professional, like, value. Yes. Yes.

46:10 – 46:14
I think something else we talked about ask and guess culture.

46:14 – 46:16
But then there’s like, like, that next step when

46:16 – 46:19
you think of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

46:19 – 46:24
That belonging part is that you don’t even have to guess or ask. I gave you the permission, right?

46:24 – 46:27
Because you’re because that’s what you did Stefanie at the conference.

46:27 – 46:31
I remember every day started with, hey, you know, learn how is best for you.

46:31 – 46:41
If you need to sit on the floor, if you want to be closer to the plug ins, if you want to get up and move, Do not feel afraid to do those things. It will not distract the presenters.

46:42 – 46:46
We want you to be able to digest the material the best way that you can.

46:46 – 46:51
And I can see someone guess culture they may not ask because they think they can’t guess the answer.

46:52 – 46:56
And someone with ask culture may not have even known to ask. Sure. Yeah. Sure.

46:56 – 46:58
I mean, I can speak for myself.

46:58 – 47:05
Like I went decades dealing with what I know now, happening for myself, not asking, right?

47:05 – 47:09
And some of that was the assumption that like, well, everyone else is dealing with this too.

47:09 – 47:12
So if they don’t need it, I shouldn’t need it, right?

47:14 – 47:16
Versus I don’t know what to ask for.

47:16 – 47:17
I don’t I don’t know what’s possible.

47:17 – 47:19
I don’t want to be told no.

47:19 – 47:20
I don’t want to be seen as a burden.

47:21 – 47:26
And so, yeah, just being able to be like, hey, take care of yourself. No. Truly, truly take care of yourself. Right?

47:27 – 47:29
This is not an empty kind of invitation.

47:30 – 47:37
And then it does help too to, like, have a couple people who did use those things, right, did accommodate themselves. It was not disruptive.

47:38 – 47:40
And sometimes it’s like, oh, you see 1?

47:40 – 47:45
It kinda gives natural permission for you to do it if you also need it.

47:45 – 47:52
Yeah. Yeah. And I think having, like, agreements at the beginning of sessions like these, I know that before, like, I have

47:52 – 47:59
a training session with my staff or even when, you know, you’re introducing yourself to a new classroom, just having those

47:59 – 48:02
group agreements to say, hey, it’s okay to do these things.

48:03 – 48:08
It’s okay to do whatever you need to do so you can show up in your best way.

48:08 – 48:14
And that makes me show up in my best way so we can do learning at the most highest level is so important.

48:14 – 48:22
And it creates that community that, you know, allows people to, you know, be their best selves in order to learn.

48:23 – 48:29
And sometimes, you know, we’re so in the mode of let’s just get this done or let’s just go through it because there was so

48:29 – 48:38
much planning that had to go through it that we’ve even forget to stop as facilitators to say, hey, let’s do these group agreements so that we can just pause.

48:38 – 48:46
And before we do all of this fun stuff, we can do the fun stuff and keep it fun as opposed to just gridding through it.

48:47 – 48:52
And Steph, I’m curious for you because you provide accommodations in the classroom. What are learning accommodations?

48:53 – 48:57
What do those look like for the children that you’re working with?

48:57 – 49:01
Yeah. I mean, it can it can look like so many different things.

49:01 – 49:10
And I think now as educators having so many tools at their fingertips, it’s not just finding a really fun video to show.

49:10 – 49:14
It’s not just getting the kids up and doing, you know, a movement break.

49:14 – 49:18
It could be like, you know, we’re gonna have stations to where some of these kids can get to play with tech.

49:18 – 49:22
We can have another station where some kids are getting to play with something sensory.

49:22 – 49:28
We can have another station where, you know, you have a creative thing where they’re just, like, literally in a box with kinetic sand.

49:29 – 49:36
I think it’s really knowing who you’re serving and who you are accommodating for. That’s the biggest thing.

49:36 – 49:43
Because, you know, there is a little bit of preplanning to make sure that you have the right tools to be able to let these

49:43 – 49:45
kids learn as best as they can.

49:45 – 49:53
And that can look like so many different things from 6 year olds, even now 4 year olds who are coming in in early TK, all

49:53 – 49:58
the way to, middle school to where they’re now learning in such dynamic ways.

49:58 – 50:06
And you need to kind of catch up to the ways that they are processing information outside of the classroom. It’s a lot.

50:07 – 50:08
And it’s a big undertaking for a

50:12 – 50:20
rise of educators who are kind of my age in that middle of the analog and the digital world to where we can actually bridge

50:20 – 50:23
those gaps into how kids are learning now.

50:23 – 50:32
I have a lot of hope for it, but that’s not to say that, you know, it it’s it’s gonna take a lot of group work in order to make it happen.

50:33 – 50:41
But I’m thankful that I work at a school that does put DEIB at the front of, you know, our learning and that, I know so many

50:41 – 50:49
educators that I work with who are vulnerable and are willing to be students themselves in order to better themselves in the classroom.

50:49 – 50:53
It’s a big undertaking, but, you know, there’s a lot of people who are dedicated to the work.

50:54 – 50:58
Well, I think that goes back to just opening the door and asking, right?

50:58 – 51:05
Whether it’s on a conference registration, whether it’s on, you know, 1st day info to parents about you as a teacher, like,

51:05 – 51:10
what accommodations might your student need, or you need. Right?

51:10 – 51:14
Whether that’s accommodation asking, for intake for new clients. Right?

51:14 – 51:19
Like what kind of accommodations might be helpful for you to get the most out of our time together?

51:20 – 51:27
Because if we don’t ask, we don’t open that door, it’s a lot harder for them to have to like do that first step.

51:27 – 51:33
Yeah. Absolutely. Well, these were all such amazing topics, I think, that we have brought up.

51:33 – 51:40
And as we do here in Happiest Pod, we are always asking questions and we are not afraid now to ask those questions.

51:40 – 51:42
I’m not gonna be afraid to ask questions now.

51:42 – 51:49
But, a light ending on a lighter note, before we wrap up, can you tell us, Marie, a little bit about what we can expect from

51:49 – 51:59
your upcoming play therapy in 2025, anything you’re excited about, and any advice or info for those listeners who are interested in attending.

51:59 – 52:02
Sure. Yeah. So, yeah, we’re back at it.

52:02 – 52:06
I had originally said, like, oh, maybe I’ll do this again in 2 years.

52:06 – 52:08
Like, date the, like, the last day, I was like, there’s no way.

52:08 – 52:16
There’s no way I can wait 2 years to do this again. 1, this was just was way, way too much of what I needed. 2, the relationships

52:16 – 52:21
and the connections that I saw, and we continue to have a very active WhatsApp group.

52:21 – 52:28
Those relationships are so important that I did not wanna I did not wanna delay that, any further. And so, yeah.

52:28 – 52:33
So we’re gonna do, where it’s a little hints from the first go around. Right?

52:33 – 52:35
Like, we improve each time we get to do it.

52:35 – 52:41
So it’s gonna be we’re gonna be March, 10th through 15th at Disneyland Hotel.

52:42 – 52:47
It will be 6 nights, because I wanna give a full 3 days in the park.

52:47 – 52:54
But it’ll be that integration again between days of learning, and then integrative days in the park.

52:54 – 53:00
And this year, we’ll actually have meet up times in the park to do integrated learning inside of the park.

53:01 – 53:04
So we’re very, very excited about that.

53:04 – 53:08
I’m definitely still nailing down presentations and speakers and topics.

53:08 – 53:19
And I also wanna kinda put out because there we did have, wonderful individuals who are not play therapists and have no interest in being a play therapist. Come. This this is geared towards play.

53:19 – 53:22
This does not just for play therapists.

53:22 – 53:29
So if you are a professional in the realm and would like to learn about how play impacts learning and mental health, you are

53:29 – 53:34
very welcome to join us, for this experience at Disneyland. Yeah.

53:34 – 53:41
It was I mean, you guys got to partake in some of it, but it was just it was so much more than I could have hoped it to be.

53:41 – 53:46
And it really did kinda take on a life of its own. So I’m very excited.

53:46 – 53:48
We we we are keeping it very small, though.

53:48 – 53:56
So if you are interested, do not delay in in signing up because we are only taking 50 people, because that intimacy was really, really important.

53:57 – 54:00
And it allows me to really truly be accommodating to those that are coming.

54:01 – 54:07
It’s it’s easier for me to do that with a smaller group and so that I can kind of ensure everyone is having the time that

54:07 – 54:10
I would hope for them to have. Yeah.

54:10 – 54:18
If you wanna come and experience learning, in a very different way, or you’re just a Disney adult that wants to take a professional

54:18 – 54:24
conference and, bring your family to have a vacation. Come with us. Come with us.

54:24 – 54:30
And, I’m curious if you can give us any sort of sneak peek because, the conference that you had this year, some things that

54:30 – 54:33
stuck out for me, one WAG heavy.

54:33 – 54:39
I don’t know if that’s a Maria thing or that was just part of the Disney magic or if that’s a play conference thing.

54:39 – 54:42
But every day there were stickers and there were bracelets.

54:42 – 54:46
The pixie dust was on every table regularly during the conference.

54:47 – 54:56
And then, 2, there was, like, a semi virtual booth component where, one of your sponsors, we got to watch them working in

54:56 – 55:01
their studio to create small ceramic figurines for, your sand tray.

55:01 – 55:09
And, they had some pieces that you could buy, but, for, watching them in the studio and having them just, like, sort of, like,

55:09 – 55:12
beam in and answer questions, I thought that was really interesting.

55:12 – 55:18
So are those are there other things that you could just let our listeners know to expect? Yeah. Yeah.

55:18 – 55:21
The swag is all me. I love the swag.

55:21 – 55:22
I love

55:22 – 55:30
the swag. Swag. And, you know, coming right off of like, you know, the combination of of Taylor Swift and Disney, right? So we have friendship bracelets.

55:30 – 55:34
We had lots of Disney and mental health themed kind of stickers.

55:34 – 55:44
Part of that is for me when I go to events, that I’m not hosting, I I always add a bit of element of play for myself because that is how I stay engaged. Right?

55:44 – 55:51
So if I go to a conference, so we were up in Albuquerque, which is not far from me in my state. Conference wasn’t great.

55:52 – 55:59
So I immediately set out to find an escape room to take my team, and we did an escape room one afternoon because I was like, I needed I needed something.

55:59 – 56:01
But it’s also a memento for me, right?

56:01 – 56:09
So like what I have my friendship bracelets hanging here and it’s like, Oh, remember when we were spreading pixie dust across like the parks? Like that was so fun.

56:09 – 56:12
So so the spike is neat and it will definitely be there.

56:12 – 56:14
And I have even more time now, so who knows?

56:15 – 56:21
Who knows the level of sweat that will happen? We’ve got, like, villain shirts, ideas. Like, we’ve got a whole thing.

56:21 – 56:22

56:22 – 56:26
And then, yeah, our talk about pivoting and making accommodations.

56:26 – 56:35
We, the the women who own Mama Isles Minis, one of them became ill and was not allowed to travel to come for the conference as planned.

56:36 – 56:42
And so we we pivoted and made the accommodations, and they’re like, we we will hang out on Zoom all day, and people could

56:42 – 56:45
stop by, ask questions, see us working.

56:45 – 56:47
They got to talk with the group for a little bit.

56:48 – 56:58
So, yeah, that’s yes, and and I have even more time to, like, figure out good connections to bring in. And that’s really what it is. Right?

56:58 – 57:05
It’s those good connections, those good really I’m very, very lucky and privileged with the connections that I’ve had.

57:06 – 57:09
I’ve gotten to meet some really incredible individuals.

57:10 – 57:16
And so sometimes when I’m doing these events, it’s like, who do I know that I think the rest of you guys should know?

57:16 – 57:19
And and and just inviting them to come to the table, right?

57:20 – 57:22
Using my privileges like, well, I’m the host.

57:22 – 57:25
So I get to say, you can have a seat at this table.

57:26 – 57:28
Yeah. Using that power for good.

57:29 – 57:29

57:32 – 57:35
That could be a whole another conversation with you too. Right?

57:35 – 57:42
But being able to, like, oh, I I get to hold the door open and let those important voices come to the table.

57:42 – 57:47
And sometimes that means, you know, we had planned for them to be there in person, and that didn’t work out.

57:47 – 57:50
How do we still make sure that their voices are are heard?

57:50 – 57:57
You know, and with technology the way it is right now, it’s kind of it’s kind of easier to do. Yeah. Yeah.

57:57 – 58:05
And that totally comes out. You can see the passion in what the PLAY therapy conference, like, kind of materialized in.

58:05 – 58:11
And it really did, I feel, touch every single person who attended, whether it was for a short amount of time or a long amount of time. Mhmm.

58:13 – 58:17
As not a clinician, I got so much from the session that I attended.

58:17 – 58:24
Because as you know on this podcast, me and Ariel, because we have different professions, we have a lot of similarities in what we do.

58:24 – 58:30
If you are somebody who serves other people, is a steward for, you know, helping other people get through life.

58:30 – 58:39
You are qualified to be able to come to this play therapy conference and play and fulfill yourself so that you, your bucket

58:39 – 58:47
is filled if I can throw, an education term so your bucket is filled so you can fill other people’s buckets as much as humanly possible.

58:48 – 58:53
Yeah. So if you are interested, the conference will be from March 10th to 15th, 2025.

58:54 – 59:01
You can register now at onewhope tc.org, forward slash play at disneyland.

59:01 – 59:09
So, again, that is anewhopetc.org forward slash play at disneyland. You can get registered.

59:09 – 59:13
You can, look at the frequently asked questions section.

59:13 – 59:22
And for those who are interested and want to follow for more news, you can go ahead and follow, the Instagram at a new hope

59:22 – 59:31
TC, and they will, regularly be updating, regarding the conference as well as other events that I know, you are hosting, Maria,

59:31 – 59:33
including the SIP conference that is coming up.

59:33 – 59:41
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, yeah. And things like the Geek Summit, which Ariel, you were all part of and we hope to to do again. So, yeah.

59:41 – 59:46
If you have any interest in how we blend mental health and pop culture, we would love for

59:46 – 59:46
you guys to take

59:46 – 59:47
a look at us.

59:47 – 59:49
So go ahead and send us those questions.

59:50 – 59:57
If you have any at happiestpodgt for Instagram and x. Let us know, your experiences.

59:58 – 01:00:03
If you’ve got updates regarding the DAS program, you know, let us know so we can spread the word.

01:00:04 – 01:00:07
And thank you, Maria, for joining us again. Thank you. Anytime.

Media/Characters Mentioned
  • Disneyland
  • Mickey and Minnie Mouse
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Grand Californian Hotel
  • Genie Plus
  • Aladdin’s Genie
Topics/Themes Mentioned
  • Ableism
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)
  • Dynamic Disabilities
  • Play Therapy
  • Event Planning
  • Ask Culture vs. Guess Culture
  • Imposter Syndrome
  • Disability Access Services (DAS)
  • Hospitality and Accessibility
  • Advocacy for Disability Rights
  • Play-Based Interventions
  • Educational Accommodations
  • Person-First vs. Identity-First Language

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| Stef on Twitter:@stefa_kneee| Ariel on Instagram:@airyell3000|

Geek Therapy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that advocates for the effective and meaningful use of popular media in therapeutic, educational, and community practice.
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| A New Hope on Instagram:@ANewHopeTC| Facebook:ANewHopeTC| Website:https://www.anewhopetc.org/

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