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
What is a Special Needs/ Autism Friendly Performance?
Sensory Sensitive Performances are
adapted for people of any age who have sensory input issues. “Reigning
Cats and Dogs”
will be performed as it is written, but we have reduced overly loud
sounds, jarring noises and intense lighting changes.
What will this performance look like?
The lighting in the audience will never be completely dark –it will
The volume for this performance will be lowered.
A quiet, relaxation area (The Quiet Room/ Calming Space) will be
made available to those who need to take a break from the show.
Additional trained ushers and volunteers will be made available to
those with needs.
Audience members may leave their seats and move around as needed.
The audience is not expected to remain quiet during this performance
–this will be a judgment-free zone.
There is no charge for tickets to this performance. There is no reserved
seating - you may choose any seat that make you feel most comfortable.
There is a special aisle to accommodate wheelchairs. Although we ask you
to RSVP for tickets, that is to help us anticipate staffing and snacks –
“walk-ins” are always welcome!
On this website we also have several resources to view: A Character and
Plot Synopsis; FAQs; a Social Story, and a Video to help you, and your
loved, ones prepare for our show.
ArtsNashoba will provide a "Calming Space" equipped with mats, fidgets,
toys and specially trained staff to ensure you, your family and friends
have a comfortable and supportive experience at our theater.
The audience will be introduced to a few of the cast members before our
show begins. Since some characters in a show can be ‘evil’ or ‘mean’, we
want audience members to meet the actors who play these characters, and
understand that it is all ‘just pretend’.
After the show, the cast will come into the Conant Art Gallery to meet
the members of the audience! This is an exciting way to end our theater
experience together – it happens only at our Sensory sensitive
Q: Are the sensory sensitive performances only for those with sensory
issues, or can anyone attend?
The goal of these performances is to provide a place where families and
caregivers of children and adults with sensory-input challenges are able
enjoy a theater production together. Very young children, who also have
difficulty sitting for long periods and remaining quiet, can also be
sensitive to some sounds. We also welcome families with toddlers to join
us at these performances. It is a judgment-free zone.
Anyone may attend, however, ArtsNashoba strongly encourages patrons to
familiarize themselves with accepted audience behaviors and the show
modifications so that a welcoming environment is provided for the entire
Q: What is a Calming Space?
A Calming Space, also known as a Quiet Room, is a place removed from the
theater where those audience members who become overstimulated may
retreat for a while. Our Calming Space is through the doors at the rear
of the Richardson-Mees theater. We have floor quilts, a variety of
activities, small toys and fidgets. This area will be staffed by our
Therapist and other trained adults. We will also have an Emergency
Medical Service volunteer available.
Q: Will it be noisy during the show?
very possible - expect there to be more than the usual ambient sounds
from the audience.
Q: Will there be an Intermission?
performance lasts about 90 minutes. Roughly half way through the show
there will be an intermission in the Conant Art Gallery/Lobby. There
will be beverages and snacks. Bathrooms are nearby and will be clearly
No Food or drink is allowed in the theater - only the Conant Art
Q: My attendee uses a wheelchair - What is the best access to the
main entrance to the Conant Art Gallery &Theater is handicapped
accessible. There is a small circular driveway in front of the building
entrance with ramps in the sidewalk. 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 a few yards beyond the circular
driveway. It is well marked.
Q: Are service animals welcome?
do accommodate service animals. Please let us know in advance, if
Q: I have a question not addressed here. Who may I speak with at
ArtsNashoba to get more information on the Special Needs/Autism Friendly
services and accommodations?
may contact ArtsNashoba President, Special Needs Events Coordinator,
Bonnie Marchesani either by email firstname.lastname@example.org,
or by calling 978-448-5335
Special thanks to the
Local Massachusetts Arts Councils of Ayer, Dunstable, Groton,
ArtsNashoba Show Social Story
I am going to Lawrence Academy to watch a musical where actors perform and sing on a stage.
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.
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.
Watch the actors on
|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
Tell an adult that I need a break.
Go with the adult to the quiet room near the
Use fidgets, color, draw, drink water, and/or relax.
Tell the adult when I am done with my break.
Return to the theater quietly.