Live theater has recently been offering special productions in an autism friendly setting. Children with autism deserve to be able to experience theater, but their extra sensitivity to the senses—perhaps disturbed by sudden changes in scenery, sound or lighting—can make this difficult.
The management of the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania wanted to make sure that kids with special needs could enjoy a theatre production. They therefore designed an autism-friendly matinee show of The Lion King that will be performed this Saturday, September 21st.
This Lion King performance will keep all of the elements that children love about it—the plot, the characters, the costumes, etc. However, there will be no strobe lights, the lights will not be dimmed in the theater at all, and there will be no abrupt audio changes. There will be rooms available if quiet space is needed, and there will be a big screen to watch outside the theater room for children who can’t stay in their seats for a long period of time. iPads are permitted to help children focus, and a special booklet is distributed before the event so parents can explain to their children exactly what will happen.
Volunteers, along with ushers and staff, have all been trained to attend to children with special needs.
This same theatre is preparing for another autism-friendly theatrical performance that will be shown in December, this time of The Nutcracker.