(Courtesy of OHEL Bais Ezra) While many were getting ready to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday February 4, OHEL Bais Ezra was bringing the joy of theater to over 100 individuals diagnosed with autism and their families, at a special showing of the hit musical “Wicked” on Broadway.
This program was made possible thanks to generous funding received from the New York City Council and the Department of Mental Health and Mental Hygiene, and coordinated under the auspices of the Theater Development Fund (TDF). The TDF sponsors the Autism Theater Initiative, which develops autism-friendly shows for those diagnosed on the spectrum.
Along with the OHEL Bais Ezra staff, TDF staff provided any necessary assistance to individuals and families, to help ensure a most enjoyable experience for all.
After a delicious lunch, everyone received custom headphones, anxiety-relief toys, hats, bags and more to ensure everyone was able to enjoy the show in its entirety.
With the music playing a bit quieter than usual, and the theater allowing people to walk around during the show, and tolerating more noise than usual, the show began. Families were mesmerized by the experience, having the opportunity to do what many families do all the time—have a family outing together, going to a community-based event.
OHEL Bais Ezra Area Coordinator Alyse Appelbaum added, “For many families it’s a rare occasion to go to a Broadway show, especially for those with a family member with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis who may have a difficult time sitting still, or being quiet for an entire Broadway show. Watching the families get a day to feel like any other family at a Broadway show, and not being judged by those around them or having to worry what their family member is doing was such an amazing experience.”
One parent summarized the day: “It was a dream come true! I don’t really go out with my son often and this was unbelievable, from the lunch to the transportation to the bags, I didn’t have to worry about a thing.”