The Elephant and the Whale
For parents of a child with autism, it can be overwhelming to
visit a grocery store, let alone a live show where other audience
members expect them to sit quietly. That's why
Chicago Children's Theatre is presenting a Chicago first: a
special performance of
The Elephant and the Whale set aside for children with autism
and their families.
"Children with autism can be vocal, active,
unpredictable," says CCT's Artistic Director
Jacqueline Russell. "We're having a performance that is only open
to families who have children on the spectrum to have a theater
experience in a judgment-free zone."
The Elephant and the Whale tells a story of an unlikely
friendship using puppetry and innovative sound design. "Because
this show is very visual and moves at a really fun pace, I think
that makes it particularly interesting for this special audience,"
Families who attend the May 4 performance will receive a
social story to help prepare their child. Although the show's sound
and lighting will be modulated for those with sensory issues, CCT
also will designate a "quiet room" in case of sensory
overload, equipped with comfortable seating and sensory
"There might be one child who really doesn't want to sit
and watch the show and another who might sit and completely take in
everything," Russell says. "It's really
being able to accommodate the audience the best you
But the real point of the performance is for families to
have a live theater experience together-without fear of dirty
looks-and opening up a new world to kids with special
"You never know what exciting experience and
transformation might come about for your child,"
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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