Autism- and Sensory-Friendly Shows in NYC to Book Now

Autism- and Sensory-Friendly Shows in NYC to Book Now

More and more venues in NYC are hosting inclusive performances for those with ASD or sensory issues.

For families affected by autism or sensory sensitivities, going to see a show or theater production can seem impossible. The good news is many top venues in NYC are now trying to be more accessible and inclusive. Here we round up the best autism- and sensory-friendly shows for the 2018-2019 season at New York City theaters and venues. The list includes Broadway shows, kids’ theater and music, the circus, and those famous blue men!
     

TDF

TDF is a fantastic nonprofit organization with the aim of bringing the performing arts to everyone, regardless of their special needs. Its pioneering autism-friendly season of Broadway shows is now in its eighth year. Each show is performed in a fully supportive environment, with adaptions to noise and light where possible. Fully staffed quiet and play areas are provided in the lobby for anyone who needs to leave their seats. Tickets sell out quickly and can only be purchased via tdf.org/autism. Sign up early to get alerts when the sensory-friendly show’s tickets go on sale (typically four to six weeks before the show’s date), at a discounted price of $55-$80. These are full-length Broadway shows, so may not be suitable for younger kids.     

The Lion King
When:
Sunday, Sept. 30, 1pm 
Where: The Minskoff Theatre, 200 W. 45th St., Times Square Theater District
Ages: 6 and older
What: The iconic, award-winning musical with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice.
    

frozen the musical sensory friendly performance

FROZEN: the Musical
When:
Sunday, Nov. 4, 1pm
Where: St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St., Times Square Theater District.
Ages: 8 and older
What: The Broadway version of the Disney movie you know and love features new songs as well as your favorites.

Aladdin
When:
March 3, 2019, 1pm
Where: The New Amsterdam Theatre, 14 W. 42nd St., Times Square Theater District
Ages: 6 and older
What: The award-winning show about a genie and a magical lamp (and other things).

Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady
When:
 May 5, 2019, 1pm
Where: The Vivian Beaumont Theater, 50 Lincoln Center Plaza, Upper West Side
Ages: 8 and older
What: A lavish new revival of one of the most beloved musicals of all time.
     

Autism Speaks

This nonprofit has partnered with two big shows this fall to offer special adapted productions. It also has a national calendar of autism-friendly events on its website, which is a great resource.  

Big Apple Circus
When:
Saturday, Oct. 27, 11am
Where: Damrosch Park, 60 Lincoln Center Plaza, Upper West Side
Ages: All
What: The famous circus will come back to Lincoln Center—and for the first time with a female ringmaster! This show will feature modifications to sound and lighting, a calming/break out area, trained staff, fidgets, signage, and earplugs. Information about the show is available before you go.
Tickets: $25 and up
     

blue man group sensory-friendly performance

Blue Man Group Autism-Friendly Performance 
When:
Saturday, Nov. 3, 2pm
Where: Astor Place Theatre, 434 Lafayette St., East Village
Ages: 7 and older
What: The fourth annual collaboration between Autism Speaks and the global blue phenomenon; this version of the unique show will be calmer, with less audience interaction, as well as sound and light modifications. Earplugs and a calming zone in the lobby will also be made available.
Tickets: $65.50 with $5 going to Autism Speaks.  

RELATED: Find services and programs for children with autism
   

The New Victory Theater

One of the first venues to offer autism-friendly shows every season, this children’s theater offers lots of support to parents and kids at performances. There are break out zones, trained staff, show information, family bathrooms, help with transitions, and fidget toys. Tickets: $25; visit newvictory.org or call 646-223-3010 for more information. 209 W. 42nd St., Times Square Theater District.

Beauty and the Beast
When:
Sunday, Nov. 4, 11am
Ages: 6 and older
What: A re-telling of the familiar story with a Jazz Age score.  

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams
When:
Friday, Dec. 14, 7pm
Ages: 5 and older
What: The New Victory’s annual circus show is always a crowd pleaser and popular choice.

Emily Brown and The Thing
When:
Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, 3pm
Ages: 4-7
What: Musical adventure based on the much-loved book.

Ajijaak on Turtle Island
When:
Saturday, March 2, 2019, 7pm
Ages: 7 and older
What: Indigenous songs, puppetry, and dance weave together to tell the tale of Ajijaak, a young whooping crane who must face her first migration south.
     

Lincoln Center

This coming season there are five shows on the Lincoln Center’s schedule that are relaxed and adapted for neuro-diverse audiences. Adjustments have been made to sensory stimuli, and there are no restrictions to sound, movement, leaving, or re-entering the theater. Tickets: $25; visit lincolncenter.org or call 212-721-6500 for more information; Clark Studio Theater, 165 W. 65th St., 7th Floor, Upper West Side.     

Is this a Dagger? The Story of Macbeth
When:
Sunday, Oct. 28, 11am
Ages: 8 and older
What: A one-man show version of Shakespeare’s Scottish Play—for kids.  

9
When:
Sunday, Nov. 4, 11am
Ages: 6 and older
What: The popular Quebecois dance company returns with this show aboutBeethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

You and Me and the Space Between
When:
Sunday, March 17, 2pm
Ages: 6-12
What: An adventure tale using storytelling, choreographed projections, and live-drawn animation.

Scurry
When:
Sundays, April 7 and 14, 2019; 11am
Ages: 3-5
What: The story of a group of squirrels who must decide what to do when a newcomer wants to join their party.
     

shh bang lincoln center autism friendly performance

Shh…Bang! 
When: Sunday, May 5, 2019, 11am
Ages: 2-5
What: Gleeful dance theater with lots of great noises and audience involvement.

RELATED: Make a night of it and go out to eat with one mom's tips for dining out with a child with autism
     

Symphony Space

Instead of having specific shows that are sensory-friendly, this popular venue has made the decision to make all of its productions inclusive. The house lights are turned up, sound levels are lowered, and the atmosphere is inclusive. There is also a break out space for families to go if it gets too much. Information is available about the shows in advance, and if families need to tour before the show, that’s also possible. Tickets: $17; visit symphonyspace.org or call 212-864-5400 for more information; 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, Upper West Side.
    

mermaid theatre of nova scotia's the rainbow fish sensory-friendly performance

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia: The Rainbow Fish
When:
Saturday, Oct. 20, 11am and 2 pm
Ages: All
What: Glow-in-the-dark puppetry tale of the deep blue sea.

Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players
When:
Saturday, Nov. 3, 11am and 2pm
Ages: All
What: This show from multi Grammy-award nominated Justin Roberts and his band is an audience favorite every year.

National Dance Institute: The Celebration Team
When:
Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2pm
Ages: All
What: Kids dancing for kids!

Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers: The Legend of the Banana Kid
When:
Saturday, Nov. 10, 11am and 2pm
Ages: All
What: A wild-west show of puppets, outlaws, and bananas.

Moona Luna
When:
Saturday, Nov. 17, 11am
Ages: All
What: Fun music in English y Español.

Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats
When:
Saturday, Dec. 1, 11am
Ages: All
What: Music straight from the bygone era.

Elizabeth Mitchell
When:
Saturday, Dec. 8, 11am
Ages: All
What: Elizabeth covers classic folk and rock songs by Woody Guthrie, Bob Marley, The Velvet Underground, and more.
     

92nd Street Y

For more than 140 years, this world-class cultural and community center has aimed to enrich, enlighten, and change the lives of community members. During the Y’s sensory-friendly performances, house lights will remain on, sound levels will be lowered, audience members are free to move around the auditorium, blankets and stuffed animals will be available in the lobby for those who would like to take a break from the performance, and the theater will not be sold out to allow families more space. In addition, 92Y will have a social story available on it’s site at least one week prior to the performance. Visit 92y.org for more information. 1395 Lexington Avenue, Upper East Side.

WANDA’S MONSTER
When:
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2pm
Ages: 3-11
What: A fun musical with music and lyrics by superstar singer/songwriter Laurie Berkner.
Tickets: $18

RELATED: 5 tips for taking a child with autism to the movies