The performing arts can help children with developmental disabilities better understand and respond to social cues, facilitate peer interaction, increase self-awareness and insight, resolve conflicts and solve problems, and foster family cohesion. Yet many children with these type of disabilities have a low tolerance for crowds, loud noises, darkness, flashing lights, and other similar sensory input. Often, the families of these children believe the worlds of theater and opera are unaccessible to them.
Sensory-friendly productions, which alter some technical and dramatic elements of a performance, are a way for neurodiverse communities to access theater. During these programs, patrons enjoy shows together with family and friends in welcoming, inclusive, and relaxed spaces. Having safe places in the community where these patrons can experience acceptance and support, while increasing their optimism about their ability to manage their situation and their sense of control, are two important assets that increase quality of life.
Photos courtesy of Palm Beach Opera.