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Some NYC theaters, museums offer autism-friendly days

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Paola Jordan's 6-year-old twins have autism. She says it's a challenge to go to public places. But the Fraunces Tavern Revolutionary War museum in Lower Manhattan is one of the few autism-friendly spaces in the city. It has started offering designated days to families with autistic children to enjoy.

The New Victory Theater on West 42nd Street also offers autism-friendly performances. This idea is thanks to Autism Friendly Spaces, a nonprofit group that works with Broadway theaters, museums, and restaurants to make them accessible and comfortable on designated days to people with autism.

The theater has an activity area where children can color or sit on a bean bag, which is comforting and calming. The theater also provides pinwheels and bubbles. The deep breathing can alleviate anxiety. The theater also gives parents special cards. Some people with autism cannot speak, so if they have to go to the bathroom, they point to it on the card. Or if the music is too loud, they point to the card to let someone know they need to get out of the theater.

The organization has also worked with some Broadway shows, including "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" and "The Lion King." For designated autism-friendly shows, the music is lowered and the house lights in the theater stay on.

Donia Fahim, the co-founder and director of Autism Friendly Spaces, says the group hoping to expand the idea to amusement parks and vacation destinations, which would open up a whole new world to families.

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