"We're gratified to have tapped into this community of families who are hungry for access to the performing arts, which is evident in the speed in which the upcoming performance sold out," said Lisa Carling, TDF's director of accessibility programs, in a statement. "Not only does an autism-friendly performance introduce the world of theatre to the person on the autism spectrum, but it allows a family to experience it together in a supportive environment with no judgments."
She added, "The word seems to be spreading as we are now consulting with organizations around the country on how to present autism-friendly performances. We are consulting with other organizations around the country who are interested in presenting their own autism-friendly performances, including Houston's The Hobby Center which will be presenting their first autism-friendly performance on July 28 of The Lion King."
For autism-friendly performances, TDF purchases every seat in the theatre for sale to families whose members include individuals on the autism spectrum. In order to be "autism-friendly," the show, according to press notes, "is performed in a friendly, supportive environment. Slight adjustments to the production include reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. In the theatre lobby area there will be designated quiet areas, staffed with autism experts, if anyone needs to leave his or her seats during the performance."
The first-ever autism-friendly performance of The Lion King was held Oct. 2, 2011; it was followed by an autism-friendly performance of Mary Poppins April 29, 2012. Both sold-out performances were presented with the cooperation of Disney Theatrical Productions.
For more information about TDF's Autism Theatre Initiative, visit TDF.org/Autism.