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Autism Goes to the Theater November 16, 2008

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Children, entertainment, Family, humor, Parenting, special needs, Uncategorized.
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I am lucky enough to live only an hour from New York City. All the excitement and bright lights. The bustling crowds and energy. A mecca of culture and the arts. The great White Way. Broadway.

So you can imagine how excited I was on Saturday when a last minute opportunity to go to the theater came my way. It was going to be me and my little man. We were going to see the ever-popular live production of… Blue’s Clues: The Most Spectacular Place.

Have I mentioned lately that my life sucks?

Ok, so we were going to a more local theater. Way, way, way off-Broadway as it turns out. Like 3 counties off-Broadway. 

‘C’ can’t handle the movie theaters yet…too loud and too dark. But something told me that a less dark theater setting with real people who are not as loud as IMAX Surround-Sound might be do-able. 

So, I take ‘C’ to the theater. Uh, oh. Gotta wait on a line for the tickets. He’s never been very patient with that. But it went quickly and I’m pretty sure his arm stayed in the socket . Ok, he wants a tee shirt on sale in the lobby. No problem. Let’s buy the $12 rip-off Blue’s Clues shirt for a 6 year old to wear once…unless I sneak it on him for the next field trip! (See last post to get the joke.) Why aren’t they opening the freakin doors? The show starts in 5 minutes. He wants “Outside”. Great. Just great…

So we squeeze through the masses and walk around outside for 10 minutes and return. Finally they let people in. Then. we. waited. and. waited. The show started 30 minutes late! That’s like 2 years in autism time!  ‘C’ was pretty good though. I was shocked. But when the lights dimmed and the giant Blue came out with the flamingly enthusiastic fake Steve things changed.

‘C’ sat on my lap (nicely, at least) with his fingers in his ears… gripping the courtesy handy dandy notebook and crayon each kid got… and repeated (quietly, at least) every few minutes “Can I go home?”. To which I calmly responded through gritted teeth “Soon, honey. As soon as we find (#) more friggin clues…”

I thought the place would be torn down as they announced a ten minute intermission only about 15 minutes into the very late-starting show. Much to my surprise, ‘C’ appreciated the break and didn’t insist on going home. The second half went just like the first. And before I knew it, we’d had a great experience together and we, okay I, left singing the dreaded:

Now it’s time for so-long. But we’ll sing just one more song…

As it turned out, ‘C’ was pretty good. And because of the long delays and the average kid’s age being about 3 or 4, he was at least as good as the other kids…and often better. And the other parents were so busy trying to keep their own kids occupied, they didn’t really notice mine.  But of course, we have no way to know in advance how an outing is going to end up.

I had wondered not only how ‘C’ would behave, but how he’d be perceived. Not that I really care, but I sort of do. Would there be any other special needs moms to exchange knowing, supportive glances?  Would ‘C’ stand out as a tall 6 year old at a preschool-type function? Would I have to deal with those annoying people who stare as if to say “Isn’t he too old for this?” or “Why is he acting like that?”  And if so, would I have an insrument ready to gouge out their eyes?  

Can someone invent a pill that would let us enjoy these occasional “almost-typical” wonderful moments as they are happening instead of having to live through it in a stressed out state, with our teeth clenched awaiting the expected meltdown that will ruin it all?  Having to look back on it after the fact and realize that it went well definately dilutes some of the happiness.  Or are there other moms out there who can go into these outings with a positive and calm demeanor and almost will it to go well? Tell me your secret!

Tell me…or I’ll gouge out your eyes.



1. Real Live Theater - November 18, 2008

Thank you for the wonderful post. There is something to be said about the positive experience of being in a room with people watching other people act/sing/dance — there is a connection there that does not happen when people are watching a two-dimensional version of people on a flat screen. I’m glad to know you and ‘C’ had a positive experience at the show. I hope you enjoy more outings like this one. Cheers!

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