Last week we got to attend the very first ever Autism-Friendly performance of Sesame Street Live! This was a collaboration between both the historic Fox Theater in downtown Detroit and Autism Speaks. While nothing was changed in the performance, there were certain accommodations made to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience by everyone who attended. The theater was set up with quiet areas for families to visit should they need to take a break at any time throughout the show. As well, tickets were sold so that there would be extra empty seating around groups to create more room to move around. There were gluten-free concession foods available- though all we went for was the pink cotton candy!
The goal of making this an Autism friendly show wasn’t just to be able to accommodate the families, but also to be able to train the staff of the Fox theater and for the production company itself to learn what kind of needs families with Autism attending the performances might have, and how to make the overall experience more enjoyable for all families.
This is all part of an initiative of Autism Speaks’ Michigan Chapter called Michigan Is Listening, advocating for people to tell ten friends about Autism in effort to raise awareness about the disorder.
I know I wasn’t the only parent there who felt a little more comfortable knowing I wasn’t going to get the look from anyone when my girl got so excited she flapped a bit. We tried to get a photo of her with a Sesame Street sign and while we were calling her name to get her to look at the camera, another parent giggles and said, “yep, all our photos are with him looking away, too!” It’s great to be around families who just “get it.”
We had a great time at the show. And like all parents, my favorite moment of the whole performance was the one where I caught a glimpse of my daughter’s huge smile in excitement at seeing her favorite Sesame Street characters up on that stage. I’m hoping to see more stories of venues participating in this initiative and creating safe, warm, welcoming environments for families like mine.
Michigan is Listening on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichiganIsListening
Have you ever / Would you ever attend an Autism Friendly show?