Relaxed friday at the ‘Leccy.

Blimey was that only two days ago? Had loads of stuff happen since then.

Twice a year the Electric Theatre holds a very lovely Family Festival – a chance for younger kids to get involved in holiday activities they might normally not be a part of, like art classes, discos, theatrical workshops and so on.

During the latter half of last year, can’t remember when, I was asked if I could help them collaborate on a relaxed Friday within the week where special needs children of all types would feel welcome and catered for. Not that they’ve ever been unwelcome at anything the ‘Leccy has put on and I’ve always had a good ratio of ASC* kids in my art classes… but to put on an event where they would be the principle audience? Exciting and terrifying all in one go, for the people who’d not done them before (and for me too, way back when before my journey with Autism began).

In the end I was needed far less than was expected (turning up for a few meetings, suggesting changes in signage etc) and was on hand during the day to talk to parents and children but did so less often than the Electric Theatre staff who seem amazingly qualified in stepping in and talking to people at the drop of a hat. All of the training and talks and ‘what ifs’ disappeared in a melee of 100 kids and parents, all happily chatting and helping each other and providing very positive feedback at the end. I’m fairly sure this is just the beginning of this provision from the venue.

Personal highlight? More than a few. One young boy wanted to be on the stage, so the actors let him and he became an unassuming star of the show, a few kids with severe motor impairments came along and ended up smiling and laughing in a circular dance with others around the actors. It was a hugely, wonderfully, completely joyous time and, speaking as a parent of an Autistic child, I could completely relate to the nervous looks on the faces of the parents as they walked in and relieved and happy faces at the end, they and their children having been a part of something that seemed always aimed only at neurotypical children and families.

(the quiet corner, which was so lovely as a space I could happily have curled up in there to chill out myself…)

*Autistic Spectrum Condition seems to be taking over from Autistic Spectrum Disorder which I’m glad about. The latter description has always felt very negative to me.