What Does It Take to Make a Broadway Musical Autism Friendly?

It’s been four years since the Autism Theatre Initiative began and ushered in the kickoff performance of The Lion King. It brought the magic of Broadway to families who hadn’t been to the theatre together before. Earlier this month, the show that started it all came to Boston for the first time.
Autism Speaks, Broadway in Boston, and Disney teamed up in finding balance for the sensory-friendly show. Social stories guided attendees through the theatre experience. They also detailed supports available such as headphones, booster seats, and a break area. The music was softer and the lighting more consistent. Trained volunteers were also available to help.
An Autism Speaks article highlighted the encouraging audience reactions. One mother came with her son and reflected on the changing times and how he “has made great strides to try to fit into our world, and now it seems that our world is beginning to meet him half-way.”
Similar changes have touched families worldwide. The outpouring of sensory-friendly musicals spread into Sydney Harbor, where the Opera House hosted a pioneering performance. The cast of The King and I visited the Giant Steps school to prepare kids for the show. Jenny Spinak, Sydney Opera House Accessibility Manager, said collaborating with the school “enabled us to understand all of the different elements that go into making an autism-friendly performance.”
See the inspiring video about what went into this remarkable event below.


The door is open for sensory-friendly entertainment options, from plays to movies. Who knows what more opportunities are still to come?
Have you attended a sensory-friendly show? Feel free to comment.
Top image from boston.com.

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