What is a relaxed, sensory-friendly, or autism-friendly performance?
According to the Kennedy Center, "Sensory-friendly performances are designed to create a performing arts experience that is welcoming to all families with children with autism or with other disabilities that create sensory sensitivities. Accommodations for these performances include:
- Lower sound level, especially for startling or loud sounds;
- Lights remain on at a low level in the theatre during the performance;
- A reduction of strobe lighting or lighting focused on the audience;
- Patrons are free to talk and leave their seats during the performance;
- Designated quiet areas within the theatre;
- Space throughout the theatre for standing and movement; and
- Staff trained to be inviting and accommodating to families' needs."
Where can you learn about hosting relaxed performances?
TDF (the Theatre Development Fund) offers some excellent resources that can make your space and programming more welcoming for audience members, particularly those with autism spectrum disorder.
Click here for the full page on the TDF's National Autism Friendly Performance Training Program. The links on the right side of the page provide a great deal of resources on autism-friendly or sensory friendly programming. Resources include example character guides, performance guides, visual checklists, social story videos, and more.
Click here to go directly to TDF's autism-friendly planning guide for theatres. This package gives some basic steps on how to offer autism-friendly performances for children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families or caregivers.
Our thanks to Rachel Marks of Autism Ontario for directing us to these resources.