Broadway Goes Autistic

It can be difficult, if not impossible, for many parents of autistic children to expose their kids to a full range of cultural experiences because of their potentially disruptive behavior and other parent’s judgment and intolerance. This is why the Theatre Development Fund’s Autism Theatre Initiative is presenting an autism-friendly performance of Disney’s The Lion King on Saturday, September 28, 2014. 

The mission of the Autism Theatre Initiative is to make theater accessible to children and adults with autism and their families. The fact that tickets sold out in just three days shows there is a real demand for autism-friendly entertainment and family activities. 

“From the feedback we’ve received of the past seasons, this community is thrilled to finally have access to the performing arts,” said Lisa Carling, TDF’s Director of Accessibility Programs. “Not only do autism-friendly performances introduce the world of theatre to the person on the autism spectrum, but it allows a family to experience it together in a supportive environment with no judgments. The word is spreading as we are currently consulting with organizations from coast to coast on how to present autism-friendly performances. We thank Disney Theatricals for allowing us to present that first performance in 2011 and continuing to support the program so enthusiastically.” 

In addition to only selling tickets to the autism-friendly performances to groups that include individuals on the autism spectrum (at a discounted rate) to ensure an understanding, judgment-free audience, slight adjustments are made to the productions to make them more autism-friendly. Jarring sound and light cues are modified while strobe lights are completely eliminated. The theater lobby provides designated quiet and activity areas staffed with trained autism professionals to help make anyone who leaves their seats during the performance feel more comfortable. To learn about future Autism Theatre Initiative performances, vist www.tdf.org/autism.