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Attending The Lion King with my Autistic Son

Something incredible happened on Saturday.  Billy and I were ableson,dad,mom to attend one of the best shows ever produced, without any worry that his rocking or singing would disturb anyone.  In fact every other person in the audience seemed to be rocking or talking or singing or clapping or standing up at inopportune times – Autism Speaks sponsored a show just for people on the autism spectrum.  And what a show it was.  I cried at the opening Circle of Life, which is so overwhelming anyway with elephants and zebras coming down the aisles. I looked at the mom next to me, who also had a young adult son with her, and she was crying too.  To think that we could have our 20-something sons finally attend a Broadway show was just too much.

My husband and I took our two other sons to see The Lion King five years ago, without Billy.  Billy was at summer camp and it was our chance to do things like that, but I never forgave myself.  Because it was Billy who really loved The Lion King, and it was because of Billy that each of us knew every line of the show – he had literally played the Lion King DVD hundreds of times.  And yes we all still love the DVD, it is that good (also saved us from Barney, enough said).  

The show was just incredible, from beginning to end. The children in the audience were well behaved and engaged.  (Excellent people watching, I must say, and an unforgettable amount of love in the room.)  Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was on hand for the festivities (pictured here, with Bill and me).  The national president of Autism Speaks, Liz Feld, met Billy and talked to us during the intermission.  Autism Speaks partnered with Broadway In Boston and Disney Theatrical Productions to make this happen, and I can’t thank them enough.  Also there were a number of corporate sponsors that helped make the ticket price affordable.  Needless to say, we are hoping for more performances that are autism-friendly in the future.  The world is a different place than it was in 1994 when Billy was first diagnosed.  Billy has made great strides to try to fit into our world, and now it seems that our world is beginning to meet him half-way.  Amazing.


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