First Sensory Friendly Production is well received.
For many children with autism, sensory integration challenges, or developmental differences, going to the theater is overwhelming. The bright lights and loud music that excite typically developing children can be unbearable to their peers with special needs. Over the past few months, DCT has been working with families and healthcare providers to produce a performance that gives these kids the chance to comfortably experience live theater, and on March 1st, we proudly staged our very first sensory- friendly performance. Small adaptations to our production of “Go, Dog. Go!” made a big difference to the families in the audience.
With input from parents, experts who work with a range of special needs children, and partners from Orlando Repertory and Nashville Children’s Theater, we implemented small (but effective) changes to the performance. We reduced sound levels, removed loud effects, and kept the house lights on at a higher level than normal. A “quiet room” was provided for children who needed to take a break, and a social story posted on our website helped familiarize kids with DCT and prepare them for their outing. The show itself remained largely unchanged, giving patrons the same critically-acclaimed performance that other audiences enjoyed.
Perhaps most significantly, the sensory-friendly show was a judgment-free zone. Parent Jill Rowlett remarked that, “for those with disabilities and their parents, this is a dream. A place to take our children where they will fit in or at least be understood and accepted is rare… Parents can actually share family time out of their homes, without constant tension and worrying how their child will react…or how the public will react.” If a child vocalized or had a meltdown, parents knew that the other audience members understood. Michelle Rice Dooley, another mother who attended the March 1st performance of “Go, Dog. Go!,” noted that “parents were relaxed, because no matter what, we were amongst a people with compassion and understanding. It truly allows the parents to relax and feel free to enjoy with their child. Thanks- we can’t wait for the next one!!!”
We can’t wait for the next sensory-friendly show, either! March 1st was an exciting and informative day for Dallas Children’s Theater, and we were touched by the positive reactions from the families who came to see the show. Many thanks to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Theater Communications Group, Autism Speaks, UNT, and UT Southwestern, and all of our community partners for making our first sensory-friendly show such a success.
Mark Your Calendars! Our next sensory friendly performance will be…
July 12 at 4:30pm
Tickets are $5 per person. Call the Box Office at (214) 740-0051 to get yours today