The case of the Autistic 12year old boy who was asked to leave a London theatre this week was very unfortunate for many reasons. Firstly, because young Gregor Morris was clearly enjoying the performance of 'Wicked' after a long trip south from Moray. Secondly, because it was not any audience member, but a lighting crew operator who was supposedly disturbed by Gregor's enjoyment of the show. And thirdly, because the Apollo Victoria and the Ambassador Theatre Group which runs this venue appear to really have missed a trick by allegedly being so autism-unfriendly.
I'm sure this sort of thing has happened much more often than is ever reported ( certainly to me and my son in the past) and that's a real shame as it deprives our children and all folks with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder of a chance to experience live shows and even cinema and the obvious pleasure these trips can bring. The very obvious distress and humiliation of being asked to leave the theatre is evident on Gregor's father's Facebook page account of their experience at the hands of the staff and management of the Apollo Victoria theatre.
The Ambassador theatre group are investigating this incident, and therefore won't comment until their investigation is complete. But what an opportunity this could be for them to lead the way with Autism-friendly performances of their shows, just like many cinemas already do quite regularly. Such performances would be great for enabling folks with autism to experience live theatre and great for their carers who would be able to relax and enjoy the shows free from the fear that their charges might inadvertently disturb any other of the theatre patrons.
The Ambassador group has venues all over the country, including here in Scotland. Might they take the opportunity to lead the way with special Autistic-friendly performances, and in doing so, win the friendship, thanks, and custom of the autism-affected community nationwide?
Time will tell, of course..
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