Broadway plays are known for their ability to put on an incredible show with beautiful backdrops, amazing singers, and fantastic storylines. Unfortunately, those with autism have difficulty watching such performances, for the sensory overload can make any musical unenjoyable. The Theater Development Fund (TDF) understands this frustration and strives to make the performing arts accessible and affordable to all people. After all, this non-profit’s slogan is “bringing the power of the performing arts to everyone.”
During the 2019-2020 Broadway season, TDF is pleased to announced that they have adjusted five kid-friendly broadway shows to also be autism-friendly – The Lion King (September 29), Frozen (November 17), Wicked (February 2), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (March 1), and Aladdin (May 3).
These autism-friendly plays adjust any sensory lights or sounds that may overstimulate someone with autism. According to Playbill, the performances adjust the sounds so they do not exceed 90 decibals, the lights are dimmed halfway instead of a full black out, and there is a limit of strobe and flashing lights. Additionally, those with autism receive educational materials about the characters and plot of the play to fully understand the performance beforehand and to make it more enjoyable while watching.
With the expenses of therapies, doctors appointments, and medications, many families affected by autism have little room financially to buy Broadway tickets. However, with TDF’s autism-friendly plays, several hundred free tickets are given to these families, for they understand the financial burdens of autism.
Victoria Bailey, TDF’s executive director, tells Playbill, “We’re grateful to everyone involved in these productions for helping us provide this service to this underserved audience and help us provide an experience for families that is often life-changing.” These minor changes have allowed many people affected by autism to enjoy a performing arts play without the fear of sensory overload.
For more information on autism-friendly plays and discounted tickets, please visit here.