Wednesday, 21 December 2016 12:09


Written by

The adoption of relaxed performances of pantos across Scotland will allow autistic children to enjoy the festive tradition, campaigning MSP Mark McDonald has said.

Many autistic children are missing out on the Christmas tradition because shows are often too loud and bright for them. Elaine C Smith said that her nephew, who has autism, found it “quite terrifying” when he saw her in one of her first pantomimes.

The relaxed version of Dick McWhittington is designed for people with autism spectrum conditions, learning disabilities or sensory and communication disorders and will run until Sunday 8 January 2017.

Typically a conventional pantomime performance would prove overwhelming and even distressing to those with atypical sensory perception. The less formal atmosphere at relaxed performances allows children with autism to enjoy the show in a way that accommodates their needs.

Elaine C Smith, Alan McHugh and Jordan Young are starring in the show.

Commenting, River City star Jordan Young who plays Boabby Ba'heid in the panto, said:

“I’m really delighted to be taking part in this more relaxed and informal autism friendly performance of Dick McWhittington in Aberdeen, and it’s great that Mark McDonald MSP continues to campaign for this.

“I would definitely agree that more theatres should get involved in this great initiative, making pantomime more inclusive and a supportive atmosphere for people with complex needs and their families so that everyone can enjoy and take part in this great Christmas tradition.”

Commenting, Mark McDonald said:

“The fact that there are nearly 60,000 people with autism in Scotland highlights why we need more autism-friendly shows to allow all families across Scotland to be able to celebrate the festive season by attending a pantomime.

“Autism-friendly performances include subduing of pyrotechnics, strobe lighting and other loud noises, a more relaxed and informal atmosphere with support on hand for any audience members who may become anxious.

“I would encourage all pantomime producers across Scotland to look at what has been achieved in Aberdeen and other theatres since this campaign began, and think about how they can adapt their pantomimes to allow people with autism to enjoy their show as well.

“Nobody will ever find themselves excluded by a relaxed performance, and all it takes are small but important adjustments to make the joy of theatre as inclusive as possible. I hope to see many more organisers follow in Aberdeen’s lead.”