Children with autism went to the ball with accessible Cinderella show

Two smiling young girls sit on a chair by a fire for a performance of Cinderella.

This week we took four young people with autism and sensory impairments to the Birmingham Hippodrome for the ‘relaxed performance’ of Cinderella, and what a night it was!

The trip was organised by Sense’s Get Out There Group in Warwickshire, which takes young people aged 0-18 years old into the community with the aim of boosting confidence and social skills, as well as reducing isolation and giving parents and carers respite.

Two of the children attending were 13 year old Isha and 15 year old Anysah, who both have autism. They were very excited to see the show, and couldn’t believe they were allowed to be themselves, and wouldn’t be told off if they were too noisy!

I hadn’t been to a relaxed performance before, so wasn’t sure what to expect. Very helpfully, the Hippodrome released a brilliant video beforehand which we showed to the young people to make them familiar with where they were going, and who they were going to see when they got there. That was a great start to the day.

Two smiling girls sit in front of a Cinderella poster

From the moment we stepped through the doors, to the moment we left, we were really spoilt and made to feel so special and just accepted. There was nothing that was too much for the staff (all donning lovely sparkly hats to make them obvious, friendly and approachable).

The venue had really thought of everything, with free ear defenders, lower sound levels, clear signage to toilets, and at the back of the theatre doors stayed open with staff on hand, ready to assist.

There were sensory rooms on every floor available at any time, screens around the building that were showing the performance, and just every detail had been thought about – even the hand driers were turned off in case the noise was distressing to those attending.

At the start, the main character walked onto the stage to introduce themselves and show everyone how the bangs and flashes worked, so they wouldn’t come as a shock.

An actress dressed as Cinderella stands on a stage in front of a giant clock under dramatic purple lighting

Also with us were two other young children who both had autism. One girl – who’s profoundly deaf and suffers from the rare skin condition, Epidermolysis Bullosa – was made to feel really welcome, and the brilliant BSL Interpreter, audio description and captions meant she didn’t miss out on a single moment.

Sense has a partnership with the Birmingham Hippodrome, who really went the extra mile to support the children attending, including those with complex communication needs and sensory impairments.

Learn more about Sense’s Activity Groups, including the Get Out There (GOT) activity groups.

Why I volunteered for Sense for 25 years

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