Prepared by Ellie Griffiths in June 2019 while working on the Sound Symphony project. The toolkit includes:

Core principles

  • To make an inclusive space, you need to think about the person with the most complex needs or the most barriers first in the creative process and building from there
  • Find shared fascinations that are authentic to both you as an artist and the audience you are making for and/or with. (This may require you to spend a lot of time together to discover what these are)
  • ‘Nothing about us without us’, this means working to make sure your audience has choices and autonomy. It also means inviting people into your creative process who have different perspectives and lived experiences to you. It’s good to think about the power structures of who is having meaningful impact on the work being made. In the Sound Symphony project, we focused on how to collaborate with young people who are non-verbal for example.
  • Shared authorship: The work is complete when it meets its audience. Our audience are also our participants, so in that way the relationship becomes very close. For all of our work we embed the audience in the dramaturgy of what’s going to happen. Audience engagement informs the design of the piece. This means an audience should never be bashing up against an artistic intention, but fulfilling it.
  • Be responsive: this means practicing active listening and finding space for this to exist within your piece.

Practical considerations

  • Don’t assume people walk in the room feeling safe (access resources, sensory audit, quiet space, venue staff training, language used about the audience by box office staff when tickets are booked all need to be considered)
  • Travel is a big barrier for some people. Opportunity to practice travel routes, or even have a taxi booked is a good thing to offer
  • People are often highly anxious about spaces they haven’t been to before – think about opportunities for pre-show visits. This also applies to unfamiliar people, so any opportunity for the audience to get to know the cast before the show is great
  • Different people have different needs, no one size fits all. Inclusive and specialised models serve different purposes
  • Seating options such as chairs, bean bags or matts are good
  • Changing Places or Mobiloo toilets are often needed when people have complex needs, including hoists
  • Safeguarding/touch is a hugely complex area in this context. Safeguarding training and policies about boundaries of the performers and risk are essential for each project. Many of the young people receive touch each day as restraint, so touch can be triggering or over-stimulating, which can lead to inappropriate sexualised behaviour. These challenges, as well as physical risk, must be approached with training by speacialists in each process.
  • Challenging behaviour and boundaries
  • Communication: It’s good to communicate to someone in the way they communicate
  • Language: Always consider how you refer to and speak about your audience. Always speak to people directly, not to the adult they are with about them. Use person first language. Ask about people’s needs not diagnosis. Never assume someone has a learning disability because they have physical impairments. I have found that referring to someone as” ‘on the autistic spectrum’ or having ‘complex needs’ are terms that seem to not cause tension or offence, but this will keep changing. Twitter is a good place to keep at the forefront of these conversations, look up #ActuallyAutistic

Blog posts and notes created during the Sound Symphony project

Perspective of a Reviewer with Autism:

Links to Training, Resources: Video, Books, Online, Reports, Sensory Theatre Companies)



I am not Your Inspiration Thank You Very Much by Stella Young 
In My Language by Amanda Baggs 
A is for Autism
The World Needs All Types of Minds by Temple Grandin
Inclusion for Pity’s Sake by Joanna Grace
Phoebe Caldwell


  • The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida 
  • All books by Temple Grandin
  • Sensory Being for Sensory Beings by Joanna Grace



Sensory Theatre Companies and artists: