Students with autism enjoy sensory-friendly ballet performance

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Vista School and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet teamed up for a special, sensory-friendly performance for more than 50 students with autism.

“Herod is in the Vista School,” says Hummelstown resident Ali Jaffrey.

Jaffrey’s son, 12-year-old Herod, was one of the students who watched “Once Upon a Rhyme” at Whitaker Center Friday, his first live show.

“Having a sensory environment is definitely helping these kids be in places they cannot be usually,” Ali Jaffry saod.

“Our students don’t often have an opportunity that is exclusive for them and also provide some of the accommodations that make an experience joyful,” said Devon Sprenkle, the director of development at the Vista School.

Dancers still performed the same choreography, only, with minor tweaks from the theater itself.

The theater was purposely not packed so that students could move freely in a well-lit environment.

“Being able to get up and walk around during the show is really great for them,” Sprenkle said.

“Making sure the sound is not too loud or not too surprising at certain moments,” said Nicholas Ade, the CEO of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

The goal is to give families an enjoyable experience instead of a stressful one.

“The main theme of it is that learning is fun,” Ade said.

An activity some may take for granted, others cherish.

“They can enjoy things they’ve never enjoyed before,” Ali Jaffry said.

This was Vista’s largest field trip. Students ranged from the ages of four to twenty-one.

Ballet staff says these kinds of specialty performances are rare in the region.

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