Sensory-Friendly Performances for Children with Autism

Attending plays or concerts with your children is a wonderful way to expose them to the performing arts and nurture their budding curiosity as young learners.

But for parents of children on the autism spectrum, such events may pose a challenge. Bright lights, rapid set changes, boisterous music, and other stimuli, while appealing to many children, may cause great distress for individuals with autism or sensory sensisitives.

The solution? Sensory-friendly performances.

These are programs designed and adapted by experienced educators and specialists familiar with the accommodations and modifications beneficial for children with developmental differences.

What differences might you expect for such a tailored show?

Lights remain dimly lit throughout the performance to avoid plunging the audience into sudden darkness, and to allow for movement throughout the venue. Rigid intermission rules generally do not apply, as some children may wish to seek out their parent or stand up. Families are also granted greater personal space, with seating options spread out to avoid crowding.

Some theaters even provide online materials for parents, such as step-by-step visual explanations of what to expect, to prepare their children for the show. Lastly, ushers often receive special training for meeting the needs of children with sensory issues, and actors or musicians are informed ahead of time about potential audience reactions (or participation!).

Scheduling an upcoming appointment at our Georgetown office? Discover sensory-friendly performances at the nearby Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Visiting our Bethesda location? Take a look at inclusive performances and accessibility options at Imagination Stage, directly across the street.

Our multidisciplinary team of licensed psychologists, speech-language therapists, occupational therapists, and learning specialists provides comprehensive services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other developmental disabilities or differences. Contact us today for more information.