Monday, 16 January 2017

Music of the 80s with Alex at the NAC

On Friday, I took Alex to the NAC to see the orchestra perform music of the 80s.  I'd been looking for something suitable in their catalogue for awhile.  Alex likes music, especially live music, and he's a big fan of 80's and 90's pop music, but it's hard to predict what will be overwhelming to him.  So I needed something inexpensive for our first try, in case we had to bail in the first ten minutes.

It went really well.  Alex enjoyed the show and stayed in his seat.  We had quiet singing which didn't disturb the people around us but still let him participate.

I did a lot of preparation to make sure it went smoothly.  We started with sharing pictures of concerts and listing out appropriate behaviour (quiet voice, stay in seat).  I put the concert on his visual schedule to gauge if it was a dreaded or anticipated event.

I brought his iPad and headphones with me (both music and noise suppression), so that if we had to wait in our seats for awhile, he'd have something to do.  (We ended up getting in literally as they dimmed the house lights for the concert, so that wasn't necessary but I was prepared.)  I had a big tupperware full of gummi bears which I doled out during the concert as a reward for sitting quietly and paying attention.  (One every two minutes during talky bits and one every five minutes during the music.)  I also brought a waterbottle for him.  He had a small toy (Elmo) and I wore his favourite fidget bracelet (beads on an elasticized band).

The lady next to us had binoculars and Alex rolled up his program like a telescope, looking through it at the stage.  I let him toy with the bracelet or Elmo throughout the concert, giving him a quiet way to stay occupied.  I sang quietly, directly into his ear, when he asked.  He didn't end up needing the noise suppression headphones, though he did wear his Elmo hat the entire time.  I stayed in physical contact through the whole concert, squeezes, backrubs, holding his hand.  Again, I think the pressure and contact helped him to stay centred (as well as giving me warning if he was starting to get agitated).

In all, I think it was a big success and gives me a formula that I can adapt for other events that he might like.

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