Bringing the Arts to Youth...
and Youth to the Arts!


Autism/Special Needs Friendly Performances

Each of us has been touched, in some way, by a friend or family member with special needs or diagnosed along the Autism spectrum. ArtsNashoba is honored to present a performances specifically adapted for this special population, their families, their educators and caregivers.  For more information about ArtsNashoba's Autism/Special Needs performances, please email ArtsNashoba President Bonnie Marchesani at

A preparatory video for those planning to attend our Autism/Special Needs Friendly performances.

What is an Autism/Special Needs-Friendly Performance?

There are often questions about just what these performances look like – hopefully you find this information helpful.

Autism/Special Needs-Friendly Performances are designed and intended for those who are on the autism spectrum or who have other sensory issues. At these performances, the theater environment will be altered, providing a safe, sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming for all. Autism/Special Needs-Friendly Performances are recommended for those families and caregivers that would like to bring a loved one with a developmental disability, and for their teachers and advocates who are familiar with and accepting of behaviors exhibited by some individuals with autism and special needs. 

There will no charge for the tickets to this performance, however we do ask you to reserve your tickets either online or email at There is no reserved seating you may choose any seats that make you most comfortable. There is an aisle to accommodate wheelchairs.

 While our production will be performed as written, adjustments have been made to alleviate any overly loud sounds, jarring noises and intense lighting. Additional resources such as: a character and plot synopsis; FAQs; a Social Story, and a Video are provided on this website to help you decide if this show is appropriate for your family.

ArtsNashoba will be providing an array of services such as a "Quiet Room", fidgets, and specially trained staff to help you, your family and friends have a comfortable and supportive experience at our theater - the full list of services is provided below in the FAQs.


Q: Are A-F performances only for those with autism or other sensory issues, or can anyone attend?
A: Autism/Special Needs-Friendly Performances are intended primarily for families/schools with members on the autism spectrum or who have other sensory issues. In addition to altering the theater environment to cater to those with sensory issues, a main goal of this program is to provide a safe, judgment-free, comfortable experience for the entire audience. We achieve this by recommending this performance for those families bringing loved ones who have a developmental disability, and their advocates who are familiar with and accepting of behaviors exhibited by those with autism.

Very young children also have challenges sitting for long periods, remaining quiet and can be sensitive to some sounds. We welcome families with toddlers to join us at these performances as well.

Q: What accommodations will there be? How is it different from other performances?

A: The Autism-Friendly accommodations are:

  • Lights remain on, but dimmed inside the theater 

  • Comfortable volume and consistent sound levels, elimination of loud sound effects.

  • Audience members are free to talk and leave their seat under parental/caregiver supervision - if you feel it is making an impact on others' experience in the theater, we encourage you to come and go as needed.

  • A Quiet room will be made available

QUIET/CHILL ROOM is located down the hall from the theater, it is provided for those audience members who become overstimulated and need a place to relax (hopefully returning to the show later). Mats, chairs and tables will be provided, as well as a variety of coloring activities, sticker books and fidgets. This area will be staffed by our Therapist, other trained adults and an EMS person from the Groton Fire Dept.

Q: Will there be an Intermission?

A:  The performance lasts about 90 minutes. Roughly half way through the show there will be an intermission. In the Conant Art Gallery there will be beverages and snacks. Bathrooms are nearby and will be clearly marked.

No Food or drink is allowed in the theater -  only the Conant Art Gallery.

Q: Will the show on stage be any different from other performances that are not Autism/Special Needs-Friendly?
A: Content is not altered for these performances. Sensory-effects, however, will be slightly altered. Amplified audio levels are made to be more comfortable and consistent without abrupt spikes in volume or jarring sound effects. And lights remain on, but dimmed inside the theater. All audience members will have an opportunity to meet the cast members at the conclusion of the performance in the Conant Art Gallery.

Q: Will it be noisy during the show?
A: It's very possible - expect there to be more than the usual ambient sounds from the audience.

Q: How can I prepare my audience member for this outing in the theater?
A: We have posted a Social Story and a video to help your family/school become familiar with the exterior and interior of the Lawrence Academy theater complex. There is also: a character and plot synopsis

Q: My attendee uses a wheelchair - What is the best access to the theater?
A: The main entrance to the Conant Art Gallery &Theater is handicapped accessible. There is a small circular driveway in front of the entrance with ramps in the sidewalk.  Pull right up to the sidewalk for unloading/drop-off at the main doors of our theater building. Although the main parking area is a few steps below this level, if you are driving a handicapped vehicle there is a handicapped parking lot next to this circular driveway.

Q: Are service animals welcome?
A: We do accommodate service animals.

Q: I have a question not addressed here. Who may I speak with at ArtsNashoba to get more information on the Autism/Special Needs-Friendly services and accommodations?

A: You may contact the ArtsNashoba President and A-F Coordinator, Bonnie Marchesani either by email, or by calling 978-448-5335

Special thanks to the Local Massachusetts Arts Councils of Ayer, Acton/Boxborough, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley and Townsend who have made these performances possible!

ArtsNashoba Show Social Story

I am going to Lawrence Academy to watch a musical where actors perform and sing on a stage. The show is about an hour and a half long with a 15-minute intermission (everyone takes a break) in the middle. I will be in the audience. The audience of about 100 people will watch, listen, and clap.

When I arrive at Lawrence Academy, I will follow these steps in this order:

1. Go to the check-in desk and get a ticket for the show.
2. Walk through the door into the theater.  
3. Find an open seat that I will be comfortable sitting in.

During the performance, I will:
1. Be quiet and listen to the actors speaking and singing.
2. Watch the actors on stage. From the 2013 production of "Beauty and the Beast Jr."
3. Clap when a song in finished. But, if I don’t feel like clapping, I don’t have to.

If I need to take a break during the musical, I will:

  1. Tell an adult that I need a break.

  2. Go with the adult to the quiet room near the theater.

  3. Use fidgets, color, draw, drink water, and/or relax.

  4. Tell the adult when I am done with my break.

  5. Return to the theater quietly. 


P.O. Box 716, Groton, MA  01450-9998
ArtsNashoba is a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

ArtsNashoba is supported in part by grants from local agencies of the towns of Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley & Townsend, all supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.