ATI's fifth season will include matinees of The Lion King (Sept. 27 at the Minskoff Theatre), Wicked (Feb. 7, 2016 at the Gershwin Theatre) and Aladdin (March 6 at the New Amsterdam Theatre). Additional performances may be added at a later date. All performances will begin at 1 PM.
The Autism Theatre Initiative is one of TDF's Accessibility Programs (TAP). The programs aim to make theatre accessible for all audiences. ATI, which was launched in 2011, creates a friendly and supportive environment to make theatre accessible for adults and children on the autism spectrum, as well as their families. Adjustments that can be made include the reduction of jarring sounds and strobe lights focused into the audience. There are also staffed "play" and "quiet" areas set up for people who feel overwhelmed or need to leave their seats during the performances.
Lisa Carling, director of TDF's Accessibility Programs, said in a statement, "The success of the Autism Theatre Initiative showed us that people on the autism spectrum or with other developmental or cognitive disabilities would have a wonderful experience at the theatre with their families, in a safe, non-judgmental environment. It’s thrilling to watch these special performances.”
TDF purchases every seat in the theatre for these special performances and sells them at discounted prices to families, schools and groups whose members include individuals on the autism spectrum. Tickets to these performances are sold at tdf.org/autism.