‘Lion King’ changes for autism: Broadway show accepts autistic audience

Lana Bandoim's picture

The “Lion King” continues to be a popular Broadway production, but it was recently changed to meet the needs of a special audience. The show was adjusted for people with autism, so they could enjoy it at the Boston Opera House. More than 2,000 people attended the autism-friendly program, and other cities are considering the idea of holding similar productions.

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Autism can sometimes limit the ability of families to enjoy events such as Broadway shows because they are worried about their autistic loved ones reacting to the sounds, smells and visuals in a negative way. Meltdowns, fits and sensory issues are a common problem for autistic children, but there is a movement to create special programs to fit their needs. The “Lion King” is the latest example of an event that has been adjusted to make it easier for autistic people to attend the show.

The “Lion King” had several major changes for the autism-friendly audience that included a reduction of music and lights. In addition, audience members were permitted to eat their own snacks throughout the performance without fear of them being taken away by ushers. Special areas were set up for autistic children who needed to escape the sensory overload, and assistance dogs were used to help calm them.

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Some of the adults and children had to wear headphones during the performance, but the rules at this Broadway production meant they were free to do what made them comfortable. The dress code for the audience was also relaxed with staff allowing jeans, hoodies, T-shirts and blankets. Important details such as the removal of strobe lights and addition of beanbag chairs were not overlooked, and the audience was able to experience a fun show in a more relaxed setting. Families with autistic loved ones are already wondering how to get another Broadway show to be autism-friendly.

Read more about autism:
Airlines provide autism support: Advice for flying
Family being deported because of autistic child: Maria Sevilla reveals details

Image: David R. Tribble/Wikimedia Commons

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