Autism and the Theater: THANK YOU Kelvin Moon Loh!

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Kelvin Moon Loh is a performer who is currently in ‘The King and I’ at Lincoln Center. The day prior to this post there was an incident with an Autistic* person during one of his shows. His response was amazing, and he actually began a discussion about it on his personal Facebook page. Since some of you don’t have Facebook, and also because THIS IS IMPORTANT, I copied his responses and posted some screenshots here. Shared with his permission.

(*Yes, I said Autistic, not with Autism. I am not being disrespectful, I am simply reflecting the way that an increasing majority of Autistic individuals wish to be identified. If you are not familiar with the identity-first movement I encourage you to learn more.)

Here is what Kelvin’s Facebook post said (screenshot is at the top of the post):

“I am angry and sad.

Just got off stage from today’s matinee and yes, something happened. Someone brought their autistic child to the theater.

That being said- this post won’t go the way you think it will.

You think I will admonish that mother for bringing a child who yelped during a quiet moment in the show. You think I will herald an audience that yelled at this mother for bringing their child to the theater. You think that I will have sympathy for my own company whose performances were disturbed from a foreign sound coming from in front of them.

No.

Instead, I ask you- when did we as theater people, performers and audience members become so concerned with our own experience that we lose compassion for others?  Continue reading

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“Dad Sees Color”: Video of colorblind man’s joy at seeing the world in a new way

“Our Dad* has lived 24,998 days. Days filled with hope, fear, accomplishment, sadness, joy. But his days have been very different from yours and mine, because he’s color blind. He’s never seen red, pink, orange, green; the list goes on. But this Father’s Day, thanks to EnChroma, we were able to give him a gift beyond description… the gift of color.” These are the opening lines to a video, posted by a college friend (and linked to at the end of this post), that show’s his father’s reaction to wearing Color Blindness Glasses for the first time. (*not my Dad). 

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The message that I took away from this video was not that their Dad was broken and now he is fixed. That’s not the case. He was, and is, a complete person with a full life. His children simply wanted to be able to give him a new experience, as well as the ability to see things in a different way when he so wished.

Several videos about this amazing new technology have crossed my path recently, but I hadn’t watched any until now. I was more interested in seeing this particular one since it was about the father of a friend, and I’m so glad I took the time. There are many heartwarming moments in the video, including his reaction to the beauty of his flower garden. He seemed to be overcome with emotion.

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I found it incredibly moving when he cradled his daughter’s chin in his hand and gazed at the color of her eyes, saying, “I’ve never seen them before.” It was a stirringly tender exchange, and a precious moment for them to share.

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Continue reading