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December 15, 2014 | News

Foundation Sponsors Sensory-Friendly Series at The REP

The Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation is proud to sponsor the 2014-2015 Sensory-Friendly Series at Orlando Repertory Theatre (The REP) located in Loch Haven Park. The $10,000 sponsorship covers the cost of performances specifically designed to meet the needs of children with autism, Asperger’s syndrome or other sensory processing disorders, and special needs. The flashing lights, loud noises and special effects that often occur in theatrical performances can overwhelm many children with sensory processing disorders. In addition, the requirements to remain seated quietly for an extended period of time is challenging for children. Often times, families forgo the world of theatre because the environment is not suitable for their child’s unique needs. 

The REP began working closely with the Autism Society of Greater Orlando to select and adapt current productions for audiences with sensory processing disorders. During the performances, volunteer helpers are stationed in the lobby and throughout the theatre to assist patrons. Adjustments have been made to alter the show’s lighting effects and to decrease the intensity of the sound effects. A quiet room is also available in case patrons need to leave the theatre at any time to take a sensory break. In preparation of attending the theatre, a Social Story, a resource guide for parents and children, is available for download on The REP’s website to allow parents and their children the opportunity to get a feel for the theatre experience before the day of the show. “Part of our mission is to make theatre accessible to families and young children throughout Central Florida. Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation’s sponsorship of the Sensory-Friendly Series ensures that we are able to reach groups that may otherwise not be able to experience a live theatrical production,” says Gene Columbus, The REP’s Executive Director.

Current productions that will receive special modifications throughout the 2014-2015 theatre season include: 

Diary of a Worm, A Spider, and A Fly: Sunday, March 22, 2015 

Shrek The Musical TYA: Sunday, April 19, 2015

In October 2014, more than 60 Central Florida youth enjoyed a performance of the Halloween musical, Click, Clack, BOO! A Tricky Treat. The mother of a child with autism said of the experience, “The entire family was more relaxed knowing it was a no judgment zone,” and that the special adaptations made to the performance had an impact.

 “Our founder, Edyth Bassler Bush, had a love of the theatre that started when she was a young girl and lasted throughout her life. This grant enables us to share her passion for the theatre with a new generation,” says David Odahowski, Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation President and CEO.