“Sensory-Friendly Concerts are free, live music settings which promote appreciation of the fine arts, while including those with disabilities who may not be able to sit still in a socially traditional concert venue. While Sensory-Friendly Concerts are for people of any age and ability level, special focus is given to those with autism, who may be more sensitive to their environments.
Accommodations are provided by keeping volume levels low and lighting soft. Noise-reduction headphones, and an adjacent, “quiet room” with sensory manipulatives, are also available. Audience members with hypo-sensitivity to sound are encouraged to come up on stage during the performance, where the volume is louder. Additionally, they are welcome to sit around the musicians or lie underneath the grand piano, for optimal vibro-acoustic sensory input. Other provisions for promoting engagement with live music are foam blocks and scarves, for those who enjoy extra tactile stimulation to their listening experience.
Performers are trained by a music therapy student to be “Autism-Friendly Artists,” and encouraged to interact with audience members who may be on stage with them during the performance. Special Education teachers of the community volunteer to keep children engaged during the performance, so that parents and caregivers are able to sit back and enjoy the recital.
Since Sensory-Friendly Concerts are a new and novel innovation in the community, surveys are included in every concert program so that audience members can answer a few short questions and give feedback. Data is then tabulated from the surveys to helps to shape and define future SF Concerts.
At the beginning of every concert “Resident Musical Autists” open the show. These Musial Autists range from young children with new, emerging musical gifts, to a blind, autistic composer and classical pianist in her mid 20’s. This is an ideal setting for self-advocacy and a showcase of talent from those on the autism spectrum. Neither age nor ability excludes anyone from a Sensory-Friendly Concert. Our motto is: EQUAL RIGHTS TO THE FINE ARTS!