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Submitted/Photo by Ken Burns: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" at the Hickory Community Theatre features Jordan Correll (foreground left), Jordan Smith (foreground right), David Abernethy and Emma Lee Kurts.

I would like to thank Hickory Community Theatre for offering a sensory friendly performance of the award winning play "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" this past Sunday, April 7.

A sensory friendly performance considers the needs of individuals with sensory differences and the performances are suitable for people on the autism spectrum or with anxiety or other cognitive and physical disabilities.

What is a sensory friendly performance?

Although the script is not changed, some of the technical elements are softened to accommodate sensitive ears and eyes. The lights in the audience are slightly up for the entire show allowing for safe movement in and out of the theatre and a sensory break room is available for audience members who need a break.

In addition, during a sensory friendly performance, some of the theatrical special effects are removed to accommodate people with sensory differences and the abrupt, loud sound effects are set to more comfortable levels during the show.

HCT has partnered with the Autistic Education Foundation (aef-us.org) to provide a sensory friendly room for audience members to see, feel and experience some of the items used by individuals with autism to help regulate and handle sensory challenges. The AEF is also participating in after-show talk backs with the cast, and is providing information about their nonprofit organization. The Autistic Education Foundation provides sensory supports to students with autism in area schools and is a non-profit organization relying solely on the donation of local sponsors. AEF is selling tickets to the annual Bash for Autism which takes place on Friday, Sept 20, 2019, at Warehouse 18 in Hickory.

As an autism mom, I feel the HCT has taken a bold step in offering this award winning play and by partnering with the AEF. I would like to thank them for considering the needs of others by offering two sensory friendly performances of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" and I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to see the next sensory friendly performance, which will be on tonight at 7:30 p.m.

The show closes on April 14, 2019, and I’m sure that many people will be talking about it in the years to come!

Kathryn Grandgenett is a teacher in the Caldwell County Schools system.

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