Creating autism friendly or relaxed sessions

As many venues begin to recognise the diversity of their visitors they are increasingly beginning to switch on to the demand for relaxed performances or sessions.

What is a relaxed session?

The premise of an autism friendly or relaxed session is to allow children with additional needs such as sensory processing disorders to experience a show, exhibition or event in a comfortable non-threatening environment. Lighting levels are raised, loud noises are reduced and people are free to move around the space and make as much noise as they wish.

Originally developed within the theatre arena and sometimes referred to as autism friendly, these sessions are now gaining popularity in a range of venues from supermarkets to gardens allowing everyone to enjoy a relaxed family day out. The National Theatre describes the atmosphere of a relaxed performance as “the opposite of the quiet carriage on the train"

We know that for many small organisations or venues this can be quite a daunting prospect, there are access regulations to consider, staff training, inclusive signage and of course reaching your target audience.

How do I create an autism friendly or relaxed session for my venue?

Sensory Trust are pleased to offer a complete consultancy package to help you get your first relaxed or autism friendly session off to a flying start and leave you with the tools and confidence to go on to deliver many more sessions as they will inevitably gain popularity.

Our consultancy package includes;

  • advice on design of space such as path widths, ramps, entrances and exits
  • advice on lighting, sound and pace of performance or event
  • advice and suggestions on creating a more multi sensory experience
  • help with reaching to the right audiences and advice on creating promotional materials
  • the creation of a bespoke pre-visit document issued in advance of an event allowing families to familiarise themselves with the space and content
  • consultation on accessible, inclusive signage
  • staff training session
  • help to establish your own blueprint giving you the tools to for run future events

We offer a range of packages starting with a basic overview for £1,500.

Email Claire at to discuss your specific requirements

Examples of our work

Don't just take our word for it, we worked with Eden Project in 2015 to help them respond to an increasing demand for relaxed performances of their Father Christmas experience. This was so successful that we were asked to work with them in 2016 to scale this approach up for their major summer event Dinosaur Uprising. Read a review about our work from Ambitious about Autism.

Children interact with sensory props during a relaxed performance at Eden Project

Incorporating a multisensory approach gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy the experience

widgit symbols on signage for a relaxed performance

Symbol based signage allows everyone to understand information

children enjoy relaxed sessions at the Eden Project

Fewer people and raised lighting can make a visit much less intimidating

“It was really lovely and so well thought through. Santa and all his Elves did fantastic signing and made such a fuss of my son who is in a wheelchair and can't talk. It was really special.” Parent.