Sensory Friendly Concerts Provide Freedom to Explore, Interact with Music


Nora just turned 14, she was born with Down syndrome, and she loves music. That’s just about her favorite thing in the world. That’s what she wants to do in the car, it’s what she wants to do all the time, and it’s really what motivates her. The music in her life also helped in her gross motor skills, so dancing (she just can’t stop dancing), so music has been a big part of her life. In a lot of different ways it’s also helped in her therapy, or ways of developing a lot of different skills. Nora started at Northwest Center when she was four months old, and she continued until she was 12. When she was an infant they would come into the classroom and give her therapy when she was able to do it. As she progressed and grew and got older she was working with other kids, so it was wonderful for her, she learned so much from being included in a classroom with typical kids. And then also they learned from her realizing that not all kids develop at the same rate or the same time or do the same things. Nora has a lot of challenges with impulse control so she can get very overstimulated in environments. I mean, she loves it, but she can’t quite figure out what’s appropriate or what isn’t appropriate. That’s why we were so excited when we found out about the Seattle Symphony’s Sensory Friendly Concerts through Northwest Center. Some friends of ours took us to the ballet, and Nora got to sit and watch the ballet which was wonderful. She got to sit in her chair and was moving her arms but she just wanted to dance, you know, she would just get so excited. It was just a lot for her and it was a lot for her to contain herself, and so that’s a challenge for us and it’s a challenge for her. Having a place where other kids that have special needs are accepted, a place for them to enjoy something, that’s always more relaxing for us. You know, we don’t need to worry as much about how she’s going to act in that situation. Going to these concerts and listening to music is just another combination of things that Nora loves and she gets to experience in the community. We really want to expose Nora to all different things and different opportunities in the community. It’s really important for us that she has these opportunities to experience things in ways that are good for her and for everybody else, and it also just gives us peace of mind that she gets to have these different types of experiences that are safe for her and also for us, in a way. These concerts give Nora the opportunity to be in social situations and learn and develop and grow what that means to be in a social situation with other people in that context. So it’s really important for us for her to have those opportunities. The more we’re able to form partnerships like this between the Seattle Symphony and Northwest Center and develop a level of understanding that people with developmental disabilities provide so much, that we can learn so much from them, and vice-versa. The bottom line is that once we have these connections you realize we aren’t so different. There’s just the fundamental things about being a human that everybody wants. We want to be seen, we want to heard, we want to be cared for, and we want to be understood.

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