Praise for ‘autism friendly’ theatre performances

Aberdeen theatre praised for ‘autism friendly’ performances

TOO MANY CHILDREN and adults with Autism are “missing out” on the Christmas tradition because theatre shows are too loud and bright for them.

Calls for more theatres and halls to build on accommodating people with autism have come from an SNP MSP.

Four years after a Moray family spoke of being “overwhelmed” by the support they were given for their autistic son after he had been asked to leave a theatre because he was making too much noise, Mark McDonald MSP praised theatres for being more accommodating to people with autism.

Then 12, Gregor Morris from Milton Brodie created national headlines when he and his parents were asked to watch a show at the Apollo Theatre in London from behind a glass partition.

Mr McDonald has since been an active campaigner on autism issues – and is now calling on more theatres to take the lead recently shown by the Kings Theatre in Glasgow and Aberdeen’s His Majesty’s Theatre – both having put on “autism-friendly” performances.

“Attending a pantomime over the festive season is a Christmas tradition which many families take for granted – but it’s something that people with autism too often miss out on,” Mr McDonald said.

He added: “That’s why it’s such excellent news that His Majesty’s Theatre are putting on an autism friendly performance of Peter Pan this year – a demonstration of the real progress we have made in recent years in helping theatre become more accessible for people with autism.

“I am now calling on all panto organisers across Scotland to look at what we’ve achieved in Aberdeen and to think about how they can adapt their pantomimes to allow people with autism to enjoy the show as well.”

Elaine C Smith, who is starring as the Magical Mermaid in this year’s autism-friendly panto at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, agreed.

She said: “Since its inception the relaxed performance at HMT has gone from strength to strength and is now the most popular relaxed performance in the UK — we all look forward to it as a cast and we’re so glad that we are involved in something so essential in so many people’s lives.”