Spectators With Special Needs

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dbmagic, Jun 13, 2015.

  1. Hey guys! I've been racking my brain on this one and I'd really like to get your thoughts.

    My significant other is doing an internship with an autism services program with her college. The students involved have a range of different needs and are involved with the program to get help with their classes, and it's a fantastic social outlet as well.

    She has asked me if I would come to the program to perform for the students. At first, I respectfully declined due to the fact that I have little to zero experience with performing for spectators with special needs. I have no knowledge of it, and I didn't want to accept, go in and do some stuff, and then bomb and ruin her reputation for bringing in her whackjob magic boyfriend.

    Does anyone here have any experience with this that they could embark some wisdom upon me? Or even any tips that would help me with this? She has already received resounding positive feedback from the students about the possibility of a magician, but I want to cover all my bases before jumping blindly into a gig.

    Thanks for reading!
    Brett Hurley likes this.
  2. What a great opportunity! And a challenge. You probably made the right choice to decline at first. I don't have much experience with autism, but of I was in your shoes I would probably find a time to go and spend time with them first. Volunteer for a day sort of thing. During that time I would look for things that help get attention and keep focus etc. As well as things that interest them perhaps, and generally learning more. I have heaps of respect for people who take time for the special needs community.
    dbmagic likes this.
  3. Cody:

    Your girlfriend is your best resource. Go through what you want to perform with her and get her feedback.

    In situations where there are a range of spectators -- whether it be a kids show with 5 year olds and 13 year olds, performing in a nursing home or performing for special needs spectators - the best bet is to shoot for the middle. To go for the lowest common denominator will result in your show coming across as condescending and performing for a normal adult audience will lose most of your audience.
    dbmagic likes this.
  4. Thank you for your comments, Justin! I have discussed this with her and I plan on attending some of their activities to spend some time with the students and get a feel for what kind of material I should prepare.

    Thank you David! I am going to spend some time with the students and then put some material together. I will definitely show her everything before we make the final decision. You're right, she knows the students best.

    Also, can you elaborate a little on what you mean by the lowest common denominator? From the context, I'm assuming you mean I need to manufacture the effects as if I am performing for the "average" age among the group.
  5. By lowest common denominator, I am talking about he spectators with the lowest congnative abilities and attention span. In a group of 4 to 10 year olds, that would be the 4 year olds. In an assisted living facility, that would be those people with severe demensia or alzheimers. Perform effects for the average spectator in the group.
    dbmagic and Justin.Morris like this.
  6. Kevin Spencer would be a good person to contact (http://www.spencersmagic.com/). At one point he was working on a documentary on his work with special needs children. I am not sure if the film is out yet but he has a section on his website about healing magic.
    dbmagic likes this.
  7. To someone who doesn't know him, my son appears to have a severe cognitive delay because of his disabilities. However cognitively he's totally fine and on par with his age group. As his parents we deeply appreciate people who treat him like a typical child because he understands much more than people realize. It's hard to judge just from their appearance, so give them dignity by interacting with them like you would anyone else.
    JacobJ2 and dbmagic like this.

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