Shannon S. (NDM#174) (5 Posts)

Shannon Sullivan, creator of MeltdownFreeDisney, is an early intervention specialist for children with special needs and writes about assistive technology, parenting and education by day (or whenever the house is quiet). She has 2 young princes (or pirates) and lives in the metro DC area. She is NDM # 174.

I was watching a film by a former Disney star, who has been fodder for tabloids lately, before going to bed last night.  She admitted to being obsessed with a classmate and said, “I spent 80% of my time talking about <a person> and the other 20% of the time hoping someone else brings her up.”

I realized that for the last few months, I have been not only hoping people will bring up Disney, but I prompt them, with what we call in special education, “non-verbal cues.”  Wearing Crocs into a preschool classroom is reasonable, but mine are black, and have Mickey heads for holes. I carry a wristlet, which I purchased on my last trip with much restraint in a sea of Dooney and Bourke bags, because it was more practical for everyday use, and I wanted to use it EVERYDAY.

For Mother’s Day, I got a necklace that had one large pearl on a silver chain.  The pearl is wearing silver mouse ears.  It didn’t occur to me that it could be inappropriate for any occasion, until I had to take it off to perform in a community theater play.  Perhaps Mrs. Paroo from Music Man had not yet met Steamboat Willie, but it felt odd not to have the mouse around my neck.

The major difference between my obsession and that of our Mean Girl protagonist is that when people bring up Disney to me, they are usually smiling as well.  They remember a special trip, a performance, or a family memory, and use my accessories as a reason to talk about it.  Parents in the pediatrician’s waiting room have an ice-breaker for their toddlers and they look at me with a little less skepticism (especially when they see my own kids in their Pixar gear).  “Who is your favorite princess?” is a great way to start an educational assessment with a first grader, or an eighth grader, for that matter.  It works, so I am not “off topic,” but I am getting to the topic in a more magical way.

Last month I was buying lanyards for a friend whose child was going to Orlando with The Make A Wish Foundation. I was tearful, as I looked at the tiaras and worried about this child’s hair after she was treated for her disease.  I quickly decided to take my purchases, including the largest tiara I could find, to the register.

The manager saw my bag and said, “96 days.”  I picked up on his cue and said, “Where are your ADRs”? “Le Cellier, CRT, Boma, and California Grill.  You DVC?” “Not yet.  Maybe next year.” Turns out, we’ll be celebrating anniversaries at the same time, in the same place.  It is amazing that a place 1000 miles away can bring us closer to those in our own community.

If there is an ankle bracelet for being addicted to Disney, I’ll wear mine with pride, and be-dazzle it with Hidden Mickeys.

Contributed by: Shannon S. (NDM#174).  Shannon is our resident special needs specialist and parenting expert as well as creator of Meltdown Free Disney.


  1. This was a great read. I proudly wear at least one mickey everyday. (I have no choice it is an ankle tattoo). I just found my Mickey anklet and was thrilled. 😉

  2. OMG, I loved this blog. I too look for reason and queue's to engage others in my passion for Disney. When I get engaged with a conversation other than disney I get bored quickly and in my mind I am looking for an escape route to get back to my magical place.

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