More and more children in elementary schools are sensitive to bright lights, tightly crowded rooms, and echoey rooms than ever before. The causes of these children’s sensor issues is a hotly debated topic among experts, but the fact that all elementary schools across the nation need to accommodate these kids is indisputable.
When a child watching an assembly show has his/her hands covering their ears, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is too loud. The combination of a large crowd, echoey gymnasium, fast movements, and the unknown can make a child ‘retreat’ a bit and cover their ears as a protective, sheltering measure.
This, however, does not mean that a child with sensitivities should be excluded from a school assembly program. There are protective measures teachers, parents, and administrative personnel can encourage to make these kids more comfortable.
The most common assistive device that student can use are some simple, ear protecting headphones. These allow children to still hear, but at a muffled level. Extraneous sounds, like shuffling footsteps, buzzing lights, and blowing ventilation systems will disappear and allow a child to better focus on the important messages in an enrichment program.
Often, a crowded gym floor with little bodies tightly packed together will be enough to induce stress in kids with sensitivities. Allowing those kids to sit along the wall of a performance room or next to the teacher, where they can better spread out is a helpful solution.
Every child is different and so teachers may want to experiment with how close a child should be seated to the live action in a presentation. Some kids may do better up close, so the front row would be a good choice. Some kids may feel safer and less anxious when near the back of the audience. Trial and error is the only way to know what’s best for these kids. Consider seating the most anxious children near the door so that they know an easy escape route is nearby in case it’s needed.
Any assistive device, be it a fidget toy or even one of the newer wobble chairs, should be used by sensitive children if the device creates a more relaxing experience for the user. No performer will be bothered by the presence of these items and even the other classroom students are so accustomed to their use that these items are often just ignored.
As society adapts more and more to the needs of these sensitive kids and young adults, special sensory inclusive performances are becoming common in public venues. Many movie theaters now offer showings with the house lights turned on and the audio is set at a lower volume.
One Michigan theater that has been incorporating special showings in their monthly line up is the Village Theater in Canton, MI.
Visit this link to learn more and see their upcoming scheduled of events: https://www.canton-mi.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1705
As part of the way Scheer Genius Assembly Shows helps to assist sensitive kids in our presentations is with a meet and greet before each show. We encourage kids with sensory issues or special needs to step backstage and literally take a peek behind the curtain. Visiting with these kids before an assembly show helps to create a small bond and little friendship so that once we are on stage we don’t appear intimidating.
If your school wants to arrange this sort of ‘pre-show’ to your group of kids, just let us know when we arrive to set up. Or, if you would like to share your ideas about how your school accommodates kids with sensitivities, send us a note through our Contact Us page. We’d love to hear from you.