Autism on the Fringe

This week, I got a Tweet from Dr Katherine Sanders, a self-described “stay-at-home, painting, chicken keeping, gardening, sewing mother with Aspergers and ADD”. Katherine pointed me towards her blog, where she details a week of performances at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe. In each case, she describes the show, the performers, her child’s response and some really useful and fascinating “ASD/SEN notes”. I’m particularly interested in the notes, because they are quite different to the lists of sensory triggers that are starting to appear for some shows. While neurotypical people can use a bullet-pointed list of triggers (as in my last blog) to provide audiences with information, it’s notable that Katherine’s lived experience allows her to explore a much wider range of considerations. For example, in a review of Andon Theatre Company’s Fairly Tales, she says:

The cellar is dark and quite small but it is not a problem for kids to be near their parents or move around as needed. I wouldn’t think it is great for kids who need to be very mobile or have a lot of stimming, as they will be near the front of the performance and in view of other kids, which might be stressful for them if not near parents.

This sense of space, or perhaps more accurately, the spatial affordances of a specific venue, could be key information for some theatregoers, but it’s not yet something that venues would expect to provide. I wonder whether theatres could start to think about this aspect whether they’re making relaxed performances or not. Speaking as someone with long legs, I’d love to know about the legroom of the seat I’m about to book!

Katherine’s reviews can be found here:

Day 1: Andon Theatre Company’s Fairly Tales

Day 2: Ali McGregor’s Jazzmatazz

Day 3: Trash Test Dummies

Day 4: Theatre Fideri Fidera’s Pitschi the Kitten with Dreams

Day 5: Theatre Haddangse’s Brush [one of my favourites, too]

Bonus Christmas 2014 blog: Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker


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