Concert provides opportunity for individuals on autism spectrum
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal - 1/27/2019
Jan. 27--TUPELO -- The North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra hosted a sensory-friendly concert Saturday afternoon aimed at providing an opportunity for people with sensory sensitivities to enjoy a musical outing with friends and family.
Haley Wood attended the concert with her family. Wood is a behavioral analyst at The Autism Center of North Mississippi, and her 12-year-old brother, Josh, is on the autism spectrum. Wood said her brother has never attended a concert like this.
"I think this is a great way to let the community know that these events are for you too, and to let them be included," Wood said. "This is something that a family with an individual with autism may not get to attend, and it's great that they have opened up that opportunity and let them attend something that they may not be able to make it through or be able to handle or it may be a little too loud."
Organizers aimed to provide a welcoming space for those on the autism spectrum with a quiet room. They also provided noise-canceling headphones, earplugs and fidget spinners to ensure attendees with sensory difficulties were comfortable.
The concert music had a literary theme, and NMSO Music Director Steven Byess told attendees to "enjoy it however you want to enjoy it" before the orchestra swept into the music.
Those on the spectrum were able to enjoy hearing live music with their families in a public setting and express themselves; quietly watching with headphones, dancing, playing with fidget spinners or just absorbing the music like Cecil Posey.
Posey stood with a big smile after the concert concluded, and one of the performers allowed him to play the strings of her violin while his grandmother, retired educator Sarah Hall, looked on. Hall said Posey loves music, especially gospel.
"Music is calming to him, and he loves meeting people," Hall said. "He has two siblings who are 3 and 4, so we volunteered to bring him to the concert and he enjoyed it. He stayed so calm."
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