A classic theater performance tailored for children with sensory sensitivity, “The Cat in the Hat,” will create a welcoming and accepting space where it is okay for kids to “be themselves” while watching a live show. From unexpected sounds to an unfamiliar setting, the experience can easily become overwhelming for viewers with special needs.
Erik Gable, director of marketing and audience development at the Croswell Opera House, said that modifications to the theater environment will include diminishing potentially startling light or sound cues, keeping the house lights partially on during the performance, offering “buffer seats” between groups to ensure that children have enough personal space and providing families the opportunity to visit the theater beforehand to see their seats. They will also make a space available for children if they become overwhelmed outside the auditorium.
“A lot of kids really benefit from that preparation,” said Peggy Papenhagen, a physical therapist at Lenawee Intermediate School District and parent of a child with autism. “They know where they’re going, they know what it looks like, they know what their seat will look like.”
Papenhagen knows how easy it is for children with sensory processing issues to become overwhelmed by too many sights and sounds. One-time events can be startling because they can also have trouble adjusting to changes in their routine, she said.
As the first time they’ve tried this adapted version of the show’s two-weekend run, Gable hopes “that this is an opportunity people will want to take advantage of.” It will be exactly the same hour-long show as the regular performance, despite the modifications.
“We feel that live theater is an amazing experience that we want everyone to be able to have,” Gable said. “We know that there are some things about these performances that might be too much for a child that is on the spectrum and we want to make live theater available to them.”
Don’t miss the chance to attend this free movie event specifically for individuals with disabilities and special needs, their families and caretakers! Watch How to Train your Dragon 2 with a free bag of popcorn and free drink.
Thursday, February 5. Doors open at 5:45pm, movie begins at 6:15pm. Pre-registration is required, Candace Gildea at 419-887-6233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Maumee Indoor Theatre, 601 Conant St., Maumee.
Sunday, March 1 at 2:30pm. $10-$25/adults, depending on seat selection, and $10/youth 15 and under. The Croswell Opera House, 129 E. Maumee St., Adrian. 517-264-SHOW. www.croswell.org