People often worry about how expensive or difficult it can be to make an event or performance accessible for autistic people. Yet most of the time, the changes needed are so simple! In this blog Charlotte writes about her latest theatre experience with her son, and how they made their visit hugely accessible with just a simple piece of A4 paper.
As regular followers will know, my son and I love the theatre. Having initially trained as an opera singer, music and theatre is a huge part of who I am and I am delighted to say that Pie is the same.
While many people appreciate relaxed performances, Pie can’t tolerate them because they are “less ordered”. However, he does struggle (as do I) with the sensory impact of theatre productions. It is a catch 22 situation for him because he won’t wear ear defenders because he isn’t able to follow the story if he can’t hear it properly.
It has been his dream to see Phantom of the Opera and I was very aware that this award winning production would challenge our sensory processing.
We have always enjoyed our trips to theatres in the LW theatre group because their access has always been incredible and not one size fits all. I am delighted to say that on this occasion they did not disappoint - in fact on the contrary!
We managed Act One but Pie was overwhelmed and I could see his determination to stay was being conflicted with his fear of the unexpected loud noises or flashing lights. I asked a member of front of house of staff if they had any information on what was going to happen in act two. I was told to return to my seat and with minutes a wonderful young woman arrived with not one but two types of “trigger sheets".
These showed with different levels of details, events that would potentially be challenges for audience members with sensory differences.
I was blown away by the detail and the way the front of house staff were able to support instantly. This meant that Pie was not only able to enjoy the second Act, but that I am reliably informed he is saving up to go back to see it again.
As I say time and time again, reasonable adjustments are not always about expensive adaptations, sometimes it is about understanding, time and an A4 sheet of paper that makes all the difference.