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Mum's gratitude over autism-friendly panto.

A MUM says she's thrilled that her son will be experiencing the joy of theatre this year thanks to an extended programme of relaxed performances at Newcastle Theatre Royal.

Louise Relton's son Thomas, 11, was diagnosed with autism when he was four years old and now attends Thomas Bewick School, in West Denton, which specialises in education for children and young people with autism.

She said: "Thomas' condition means he might get very distressed during a standard performance of a show, which has always meant I had concerns as a mum about disturbing others around us.

"When we heard about Newcastle Theatre Royal working to create the relaxed performances it sounded like it would be an impossible task, but it works so well and Thomas just loved coming to the panto last year. It has become the highlight of the Christmas season for him."

Dawn Taylor, director of operations at the theatre, said: "Our relaxed performances are specifically designed to welcome people with an autistic spectrum condition, learning disability or sensory and communication disorder into the theatre. They have a less formal, more supportive atmosphere in order to reduce anxiety levels.

"At relaxed performances the lighting and special effects are altered - for example removing strobes and flashing lights and reducing very loud noises, but the general content of the show stays pretty much the same."

Now in its second year, the theatre's relaxed performance of the pantomime has been so successful, that they have worked to extend their scope and have introduced a relaxed performance for Shrek The Musical in March.

Louise said: "It's great that there are more relaxed performances coming now because it's so special for my son to be able to go to something alongside his friends and peers with similar conditions, where I as a mum don't have to worry."

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 9, 2015
Words:309
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