By Michael Rock
Everyone likes to be entertained. Unfortunately, many of the common attributes associated with autism, such as sensory issues and stress stemming from unexpected changes or upsetting content, can make it harder for people on the spectrum to fully enjoy themselves in certain situations.
There are several benefits to venues providing autism-friendly entertainment. Providing sensory-friendly opportunities is a form of civil rights for people with autism and other disabilities. Such special programming can also help “mainstream” such individuals into analogous events for a more traditional audience. This is beneficial to businesses as well, allowing entertainment providers to reach more people.
Recognizing these realities, many theater companies, amusement parks, and other entertainment venues are taking action to better accommodate neuro-diverse audiences with “autism-friendly” changes. Some efforts include: less intense lighting, quiet areas, and sensory rooms at venues, the offering of special permittances such as outside food and the ability to talk and walk around during a play, and autism focused events and staff training.
Despite the challenges that going out and about for fun can pose for people with autism and their families, these are just a handful of the many increasing options that address their sensory, emotional, and other needs.
Click here for a wide range of detailed examples of “autism-friendly” changes made by major entertainment companies.
Michael Rock is a New York City-based reporter and self-advocate with autism. A graduate of Brandeis University, his work has appeared in Kings County Politics, Chelsea Now, Our Town, Queens County Politics, and WhoWhatWhy.