Living Life On The Spectrum: Navigating Live Shows
I’ve decided to start a new series about tips & tricks to navigating live shows when you’re taking an SPD/ASD kiddos to them. I’ll be covering both sensory and non sensory friendly shows. The posts will encompass the pros/cons of the show and how we prepared for/handled it. Our first show was Paw Patrol Live. Read below for more info about our experience.
Paw Patrol Live
This last Saturday we went and saw Paw Patrol Live, (PPL). We got lucky and were gifted media tickets from the shows marketing and publicity company.
I had taken Everett to Disney on Ice, prior to his diagnosis, and it wasn’t a horrible experience, but I wasn’t very prepared for how to address and take care of his needs, especially mid-show. This time, I wanted to see how we could improve the experience with our new tips/tricks and help others who might need it.
Prior to seeing PPL, I frequently talked to Everett about going to see the show. We talked about the dogs, their jobs, and actually seeing them in person.
Initially, we planned on making it a family day, but Finn can’t sit still longer than 30 seconds these days. Knowing that either my husband or myself would spend 90% of the show in the lobby watching babyzilla toddle around the lobby and make loud screeching noises, we decided to invite Everett’s best friend Judah and Judahs rad mom, Andi. This worked out perfectly, because:
- Everett LOVES Judah and Andi.
- Judah had a birthday that week and is big fan of the show (instant present!)
- Everett is very used to playing with Judah, so Judah’s familiar presence helps to center Everett.
- Andi goes out of her way to help accommodate and advocate for Everett.
With Judah now going, Everett was super excited and couldn’t wait to go.
Day of Show:
The morning of the show, I was running around like a crazy woman. I had to drop off and sort items for a consignment sale, nurse Finn, and get Everett ready all by 9am. Being so rushed, I didn’t think to try calming tactics or do anything other than grab his headphones, mp3 player, and my camera. When Andi arrived, we just quickly jumped in and made a beeline for the show.
On the way over, I gave both boys an Paw Patrol activity set as a prize. The souvenir toys at shows like this can be kind of pricy, so the prize pack was a super easy and cheap way to make them happy.
After getting there, Andi parked with the kiddos while I rushed over to the box office to grab tickets. I was able to score us a spot in the long line, making our wait much shorter. This proved to be a good choice, when after being in line for 2 minutes, Everett was already to starting to get overwhelmed and hitting.
Enter HEADPHONES! I put them on him and he calmed down like magic. We were given pompoms on the way in and found our seats without any issues.
We had about 10 minutes to spare, so we took a couple cute photos and chilled.
Everett did fairly well at first. It wasn’t too dark/bright and their sounds weren’t too much. They incorporated the audience in, had the kids shake pompoms, and had a lot of fun visuals. I could tell he was starting to experience overload about 10 min prior to intermission. He refused headphones at this point, so I pulled him onto my lap and gave him gentle squeezes.
During intermission, we went to a coloring station. Everett was still acting overloaded, so I found an amazingly helpful worker who let us into a very quiet room. While she watched me do yoga poses, spins, and crazy dances with Everett, she talked to me about her niece who is on the spectrum. She seriously was the sweetest person I’ve met that recently! I asked her about the character meet and greet after and she was even able to connect us with the person in charge to upgrade our passes to become Very Important Pups!
We missed the first couple minutes of the 2nd half of the show, but getting the VIP connection was totally worth it. Everett was still a bit overloaded, but we were able to power through. The show did have streamer & confetti canons, but I was able to warn him ahead of time, so it wasn’t an issue.
We were able to join the VIP group after the show and let me tell you, this experience was SUPER COOL for the kids. They got a bag, snacks, activities, and were able to meet Ryder, Skye, & Chase.
It was a lot less crowded and noisy so Everett did really well. Everett was stimming out excitedly when it was his turn to meet the pups. Watching the joy on his face made everything worth it!
Here is a summary of the pros/cons of the show and what I wish I had done differently.
- Cartoons Pre-show: this helped keep Everett’s attention so he didn’t get overwhelmed.
- Coloring Activity: this was a great way to distract and focus the kiddos energy
- PomPom: the pompom was amazing for several reasons. One, it helped channel the kids energy, two it’s a fun keepsake, three Everett really enjoyed brushing his fingers through it, whiched helped him self regulate.
- Staff: everyone was very helpful and accommodating.
- Intermisson: this was a great way to have the kiddos get some wiggles out to help them make it through.
Cons/I wish I had:
- Thought to put Everett in compression clothing. I think it would’ve helped minimize the overload.
- Brought extra fidget toys. After a while, Everett started using his pompom to mess with Judah, so another fidget would’ve been helpful.
- Packed some snacks. Everett is very particular about what he eats and the lines were a bit too crowded for Everett to stand in.
Next time, I know I’ll need to do some extra prep beforehand, but I’m still pretty happy with how well he did! I’m looking forward to taking him to a sensory friendly show next time and seeing how he responds to that!