Broadway is becoming autism friendly! The Theater Development Fund (TDF) has started a new program known as the Autism Theater Initiative to make theater more accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families.
The Lion King has been chosen as the first ever Broadway autism-friendly play with a special performance and reduced prices for its October 2 matinee. The show sold out quickly, but we can expect if the results are good, that it will be repeated. You can sign up for information on future performances here.
According to the NY Times, some of the modifications made for this special performance include less strobe lighting and softening of the sound in some places. Many autistic persons are sensitive to light and sound.
The entire theater has been bought out for this performance. Although many Broadway productions have the ability to modify shows for hearing and sight impaired people, those modifications are made during regular performances. According to Lisa Carling, T.D.F.’s director of accessibility programs:
“We wanted to create an environment that was welcoming to children and their parents so they could come in and not be afraid of judgment from other theatergoers who might not understand why a child is doing repetitive movements, or rocking back and forth, or why a child might need to wear headphones or get up in the middle of a song and take a time out in the lobby.”
What a wonderful idea. Let’s hope that more shows follow, and that The Lion King has much success.