Music to Autistic Ears

Broadway in Boston recently performed smash hit musical “The Lion King” to another riveted audience.  But this time was different.  The show had a lot less smash, flash and glam associated with big Broadway Production.  The music was tempered and house lights remained on but dimmed.  All of these adaptations were made to accommodate the performance’s unique audience: children with autism.  The matinee show had a “chairs optional” policy, leaving most of the floor empty so attendee could move more freely. The theater also welcomed service animals, favorite toys and joyful family members as they accompanied their children to an outing that before seemed impossible.  However the “autism friendly” version limited special effects as children with autistic spectrum disorders are often overwhelmed by sensory stimuli.  There were also calm down spaces and a freer attitude towards eating during the show.  Attendees were free to dance and sing-a-long to favorite songs and many did so with pleasure.

Families packed the Boston Opera House for a sold-out and "autism-friendly" performance of "The Lion King" last Saturday afternoon. The performance is the most notable example yet in Boston of recent efforts by some theater groups to create more inclusive versions of their shows.

(Autistic children and their families are gripped by an “autism friendly” showing of “The Lion King”. Image Credit: Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)

The theater’s 2,600 guests was the largest audience hosted in Boston with “autism friendly” interpretation.  More and more cities have begun to include similarly styled shows in their schedules.

Read the complete article at The Boston Globe.

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