MSP urges theatres and cinemas to offer autism-friendly shows

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SNP MSP Mark McDonald praised those theatres and cinemas which provide autism-friendly performances and urged others to follow suit, during a member's debate 02 April 2014.

Mr McDonald has an autistic son and has previously campaigned to end the discrimination some autistic people experience.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can affect a person's communication skills, interests and behaviour.

In January, Mr McDonald supported an ASD-friendly pantomime at Aberdeen's His Majesty's Theatre which featured altered lighting and sound effects.

Mr McDonald explained that "relaxed" performances can be achieved through subtle changes such as leaving on some house lights, reducing sound levels, eliminating loud bangs, permitting audience members to move around during performances and providing quiet areas.

Autism Network Scotland describe a conventional pantomime performance as "overwhelming and even distressing" for some with autism.

When at a relaxed performance of the the Lion King in Edinburgh, Mr McDonald recalled a speech made by one of the cast members prior to the show which delighted the audience.

"Much too often autism has to adapt to society and it's about time a little bit of society adapted itself to autism."

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop also welcomed those theatres, cinemas and arts groups who already offer autism-friendly access but accepted "there is still more work to be done in bringing culture activities to more people".

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