Supporting Houston Ballet Academy’s autism-friendly performance

By: Kate Withall

Dancers interact with audience members following the autism-friendly performance. Photo courtesy of Houston Ballet Academy, photo credit to Amitava Sarkar.

In March 2015, Houston Ballet II presented a performance of a beloved classic, My First Ballet, for individuals on the autism spectrum, and their families. The performance was the first of its kind to be offered by Houston Ballet Academy and complemented its year-round Adapted Dance program; dance classes that adapt existing Houston Ballet Education Outreach programs for populations with specific needs.

The autism-friendly performance offered a friendly and supportive environment for the audience, with house lights kept on throughout the performance, the ability for audience members to easily enter and exit the theater as needed, and “fidget” toys were available to help keep children calm if they became agitated. Quiet spaces and activity areas were set-up outside the theater, while trained staff and volunteers provided encouragement and assistance to patrons. Online materials were also available so families could prepare ahead of time. Continue reading “Supporting Houston Ballet Academy’s autism-friendly performance”