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Millburn's Paper Mill Playhouse putting on autism-friendly performances

The experience features dim lighting, cues for loud sounds and a 'chill out room' for attendees who might need a break from the action

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Mary Poppins is on the bill at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. But while the show does include plenty of singing and dancing, this particular performance has been fined-tuned to be autism-friendly for dozens of children and adults in the audience.

"The Paper Mill offers a unique opportunity for families with members who have disabilities to come out and enjoy a day at the theatre," said Dr. Linda Myer of the Autism Advisory Team.

The show features many autism-friendly changes, like dim lighting, cues for loud sounds and keeping roughly half the theater empty so that families can have more than enough space. They have also included a "chill out" room with sensory-friendly activities for audience members who might need some time away from the action on-stage.

"Isolation is a real challenge for many families of children with autism," said Beth Walsh, whose son, Ben, is autistic. "Not everyone has access to excellent teaching. It can be hard to learn these skills, and we need opportunities to practice brining out kids into the community. This meets a unique need."

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