Autism-Friendly Performance of OKLAHOMA! for Kids
The Boston Conservatory is about to do something that’s never been done by any school in Boston before: make theater accessible to children on the autism spectrum.
It’s a special, first-of-its-kind performance in Boston, which is being presented as part of The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum.
For many families, attending the theater with an autistic child isn’t an option. The strange environment, the noise level and large audiences can be upsetting to the child and parents often are unsure of the reaction from other attendees.
To address this, The Conservatory has created a number of online resources to help families with this experience, including a plot synopsis, character guide, FAQs and a “Coming to the Theater” video, which walks children through the process of arriving at the theater, getting a ticket, being seats, starting the show and exiting the theater.
The show itself is specifically designed for families with children who are on the autism spectrum or who have other sensory issues and The Boston Conservatory is making adjustments to ensure a safe and judgment-free environment for families. Among them:
- dimming house lights slightly, rather than completely
- keeping audio levels relatively balanced to avoid jarring, loud sounds
- avoiding intense lighting that may be stressful
- extending the intermission period
- allowing children and their families to talk during the performance and leave their seats with parental supervision
- allowing snacks and non-glassware drinks in the theater, along with headphones and earplugs
- creating a special “Quiet/Activity Room” for children who become over-stimulated and may need a break, featuring mats, chairs and tables with coloring activities, sticker books and fidgets (hand-held manipulatives)
Additionally, all staff present at the performance, including ushers, cast members and crew members, will be trained specifically for this performance and an E.M.S. worker will be on site at all times.
The Autism-Friendly Performance of OKLAHOMA! will be Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 2 p.m. at The Boston Conservatory Theater, located at 31 Hemenway Street, Boston, MA, 02115. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children, with group rates available. Families interested in attending can call the Box Office at (617) 912-9222 or purchase tickets online and choose seats according to where they feel most comfortable by visiting.