I think the kindest thing is to allow him to make a decision with all the information available while letting him know that he's wanted and welcome on the trip. If he says no then certainly it would be "unkind" to force him to go.
Vacationing without SS - Page 3
I also think it's possible that the surprise could make this more difficult for the son. Even ignoring ODD, there are a lot of kids that can't handle surprises and need to be warned ahead of time to any major change. Even good changes can cause upset, they need time to mentally prepare themselves for what's coming. It's very common with young children- but it can apply even into adulthood. After the stress of a 12 hour trip, being surprised with something as big as Disney World could be overwhelming and cause a huge upset to many kids.
Right. I do not have ODD, but a surprise like this would be upsetting to me (even though I would have appeared to handle the surprise well). Keeping the trip a surprise could be potentially upsetting to any one or more of the children, not just the son with ODD.
I agree. And what wonderful ways to add to the delight of the trip and to the memories. There would be memories of when the kids found out that they were going, memories of getting ready, memories of the car trip (maybe singing favorite Disney songs in the car), memories of being at Disney, and more...
Also, there is a very real possibility that the photo opportunity will be missed anyway. One of the kids is asleep when the others realise. They're in the middle of a big inter-sibling war. It's dark. The camera battery is flat. They surprise you by guessing early and you miss the moment. One of them guesses, another doesn't believe them and an argument errupts. etc etc etc
I'm sorry to rain on your parade but I've been thinking about this thread and, the more I think about it the more I think the surprise element is a really bad reason for excluding DSS. You could still do the photo when you tell them at home. I a happy think you have more chance of getting it there anyway :-)
I agree with this. I think it's a bad idea in general and I think it's not fair to use it as a reason or factor in excluding one child from attending. If your son knows what it is and still does not want to come, I think that's different (and it's not exclusion).
I think that would be a lovely alternative if he chooses not to go with the family this time.