My children have autism spectrum disorder. Aside from my husband and my friends who have children with autism, I don’t think anyone in my life — my parents on the East Coast, my friends, my co-workers — really understand what outings with a child on the autism spectrum entails.
It is rare to find a fun event where these differences are embraced and the necessary accommodations met, but we found that in a Storybook Theater’s sensory-friendly performance at the Carco Theatre in Renton last week during a showing of 3 Pigs.
In partnership with Safeco Insurance Fund, Storybook Theater — which is part of Kirkland-based Studio East performing arts training program — works to make all of its sensory-friendly shows more accessible for kids with special needs by leaving house lights up, reducing sound levels, and offering “quiet space” for children who need a break.
Where I expected to find a packed house, I found comfortably open seating. Where I thought I’d encounter annoyed glances for my tardiness (I was ten minutes late due to car troubles), I found knowing and kindred smiles — the actors on stage didn’t miss a beat as we quickly and quietly found our seats.
No one stared as my son held his hands over his ears when the wolf howled too loudly or when he refused to clap at the end of the show. What could have been a rough outing was a really enjoyable experience for me, but also for my son who otherwise would spent most of the show in the lobby watching the tiny closed caption monitor above the entrance to the theatre.
Interested parents and caregivers should visit Storybook Theater online for future showtimes and locations of this season’s shows which include 3 Pigs, Little Engine, and The Princess & The Pea. These shows travel between the Carco Theatre, Kirkland Performance Center, Shoreline Conference Center, and Everett PUD Auditorium.