This April 2, landmarks all over the world will light it up blue to celebrate the United Nation's World Autism Awareness Day. In honor of the occasion, Accessibility at Lincoln Center is putting a spotlight on our programs for young people with autism.

About 1 in 68 children in the United States are identified with autism spectrum disorder (according to recent data published by the Centers for Disease Control), and many of the symptoms of autism—such as sensory sensitivities, challenges with communication, and comfort in routine—may make attending a concert or dance class difficult. Lincoln Center's longstanding Passport to the Arts program is designed to introduce children with disabilities to performing arts in a supported and welcoming way. More than 300 families participate in our programs across Lincoln Center's campus throughout the year, and a majority of participants are on the autism spectrum. An example of a recent program is Up and Away, a special production commissioned by Lincoln Center Education that changed going to the theater for children on the autism spectrum and their parents.

This April, children with autism and their families will participate in three very special programs.

First, on April 3, the New York City Ballet (NYCB) will host an adapted Children's Workshop, based on their popular program for families. A few modifications will help ensure that participants know what to expect: families will receive a social narrative in advance, for example, and the class will begin with a checklist of the day's events. After a warm-up led by an NYCB dancer, and supported by School of American Ballet students to model movement, participants will learn a movement combination based on the NYCB repertoire. Extra staff will be on site throughout the class to offer encouragement and provide a hand for balance. One of the most important parts of this program is that caregivers have a chance to take a break from guiding behavior and get to enjoy being audience members (and proud photographers).

Second, as part of an ongoing partnership with Music for Autism, the cast of Hamilton will perform a concert on April 16 designed specifically for guests with autism. Music for Autism events include a performance, an opportunity to "conduct," and the chance to make music with percussion instruments. Throughout these events, families are encouraged to stand, sing along, and dance with the musicians and event volunteers. For participants who have sensory sensitivities, earplugs and a chill-out space help keep children engaged and participating.

The third program in April will be Meet the Music: Inspector Pulse and the Signature of Time, an inclusive performance with the Chamber Music Society. Several programs are scheduled for May, and the Fall Season will be announced and open for registration in July.

To learn more about Accessibility at Lincoln Center's Passport to the Arts Program, please contact [email protected] or 212-875-5375.


Miranda Appelbaum is Assistant Director, Accessibility and Guest Services, at Lincoln Center.