Turn the lights up and the sound down for children on the autism spectrum, who thank the smart people behind the idea of sensory-friendly movies, plays, games and such.

Parents speak freely on social media that they often face difficulty finding sensory-friendly entertainment. For many, taking their child to a regular children’s movie is impractical because of the child’s jumping up and down or flapping their hands, disrupting other audience members.

Like the cartoon characters that save the day, a sensory-friendly theater production of It’s Okay to Be Different plays at New Bedford's Zeiterion Performing Arts Center on May 7.

“This sensory-friendly performance welcomes individuals with sensory needs, including people on the autism spectrum, as well as first-time theatergoers and young children," Zeiterion Associate Director of Marketing and Communications Maria Poulos said.

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The show is based on the best-selling children’s books by Todd Parr.

“Through gentle storytelling, It’s Okay to Be Different comes to life with wonderful, feel-good, positive messages without flashing lights or sudden volume increases or loud noise,” Poulos said.

Performance tickets start at only $10 each and there are family discounted packages at Zeiterion.org.

Not that long ago, it wasn't infrequent for parents to practically isolate themselves at home just to avoid a public meltdown. Back then, there were far less venues for parents of kids on the spectrum. Entertainment aside, this sensory-friendly event is a great service to our community.

The hour-long performance starts at 3 p.m. and embodies Parr’s signature blend of playfulness and important messages.

Todd Parr has inspired and empowered children around the world with his bold images and positive concepts. He is the bestselling author of more than 40 books.

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