Mainer With Autism Helps Others With Challenges Navigate Disney World
John McMahon from Brunswick loves Disney and understands it can be overwhelming for those with autism. He is here to help.
John was diagnosed with autism when his parents were stationed in Iceland. Both his mom and dad were on active duty in the Navy at the time. They were lucky enough to land in Brunswick when they moved back to the states. They noticed that John struggled in social situations and was bullied quite a bit. But he is a very kind soul and considered everyone to be his friend. When he was in high school, he had a great counselor who suggested that he join the club that did the morning announcements on the school TV network, and he loved it. That was when his dad suggested he start a YouTube channel! The Big John Network was born.
John calls his videos Dis-ability Tips. When the family went to Disney, it was often a struggle. John’s older sister wanted to do things that he couldn’t and John needed frequent breaks to manage the information overload. They also had problems with restaurants because John had food texture issues. One night they ran into a friend who was a manager at EPCOT and he had some great advice on working with Disney cast members. Since that night 11 years ago, John has been collecting a lot of lessons learned that make trips much more enjoyable. He has been to Disney World 16 times!
John is a giver and started volunteering at the elementary school in Brunswick, working with the students in the special needs classes. Teachers say he has a great connection with the kids and helps them when they are struggling. He has also worked for several years at the Bowdoin Summer Day Camp, working with the younger kids and those that need extra support. He has a genuine passion for helping kids on the autism spectrum and he is great at it because he understands their struggles.
The YouTube channel is a great way for him to combine all of the things that he loves. He uses the skills that he learned from doing the morning announcements in high school, his love of Disney, and his desire to help kids on the autism spectrum to share the lessons that he has learned during trips to Disney World. For kids who have sensory issues, a place like Disney World can be tough because it is designed to overload your senses. His parents are very proud of John and they believe he is really helping families.
I have had the pleasure of meeting John and he is very remarkable and loving. I'm thrilled that now you can meet him too through his videos.
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