When a Boy Got Out of His Seat During an Autism-Friendly Performance of ‘The Lion King’


Growing up, I was a huge fan of “The Lion King.” Now as an adult, I still love watching the film with my younger cousins and mentees. Then recently, I heard that an autism-friendly performance of “The Lion King” was happening on Broadway! I bought tickets right away and was ready for the nostalgia to begin.

Thanks to the Theatre Development Fund and the Autism Theatre Initiative, every season they have several of these autism-friendly performances for our families to enjoy.

The day of the performance came and I was ecstatic. As the performance began, all the families seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. Right before the end of the first act, the actors were performing the classic song “Hakuna Matata” when I noticed a young boy stand up out of his chair and began to sing along.

There this boy was, flapping his arms and singing, and I was thinking the worst was about to happen. I instantly became concerned for the boy. That any minute, there would be a stranger making a comment in his direction.

But what happened next left me speechless…

Absolutely nothing.

No judgment. No criticism. Just a boy singing “Hakuna Matata” with a big smile on his face.

As the song concluded after the first act ended, and the lights came back on, I noticed a woman next to the boy with tears still running down her eyes. A smile just as big as the boy’s was on her face.

The audience understood that the boy was having an amazing time at the theater.

These are the types of moments that take my breath away.

This was a moment where there was no judgment from anyone around them, just people enjoying something together as a family.

When I was growing up on the autism spectrum, I often struggled with challenges in the theater due to my sensory issues. But even though the loud noises tended to bother me at times, one of my key interests was in theater. I was able to enjoy countless moments of pure joy with my family, and so was this mom with her son.

I cannot thank the Theatre Development Fund and the Autism Theatre Initiative for continuing to make these moments possible for our community. We need more people to lead by their example in their local communities to make all forms of entertainment possible for our loved ones in an autism-friendly setting.

The performance that day was incredible, but for me it was the audience that stole the show. Thank you to our community for making that moment possible.

A version of this blog originally appeared on Kerrymagro.com.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via YouTube video below

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Image of the exterior of a Friendly's restaurant

Boy With Autism Kicked Out of Friendly's Restaurant After Having Meltdown

When Teri Lyn Jensen-Sellers went to her local Friendly’s in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, she wasn’t anticipating the unfriendly way her son would be treated. While waiting to be served, Lind, 5, who’s on the autism spectrum and is partially nonverbal, began having a meltdown. “Within five or seven minutes, the manager came over,” Jensen-Sellers told WFMZ, “and [...]
Black and white drawing of a sad young woman

The Isolation of an Adult With Autism Who Grew Up Without Support

At this time of the year I begin to feel a little sadness. In the summer I love being outside and talking to people, whether they want to talk to me or not. Now summer is over, and we have cooler weather and colder nights. This means people can use the weather as an excuse not [...]

Halloween Tips and Cool Costumes for Sensory-Sensitive Kids

Each October since my kids were little, I have struggled with the desire to give my son the “typical” childhood experience of dressing up and asking for candy and the anxiety of asking myself questions like: Will he have a meltdown after visiting the first house? Walk into a stranger’s house for candy and not leave? [...]
Boy in a blue polo shirt, sitting on the grass

I Rely on My Son’s Teacher to Share the Details of His School Day With Me

For a parent of a child with special needs who may be limited in their ability to verbally express what transpired throughout their school day, communication between teacher and parent is key. When I have a conversation with my son, Leo, who has autism, about his day, it might go like this: Me: Leo, your [...]