Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
Julia Wilbarger, PhD, OTR/L
Caroline Umeda, PhD, OTR/L
Background: Individuals with disabilities have decreased levels of community social participation and encounter environmental barriers that limit access to community participation in cultural arts, which negatively impacts quality of life. Existing literature on sensory friendly theatre focuses on parent and organizational stakeholders and supports the promise of sensory friendly programming designed with occupational therapy consultation to increase access for individuals with sensory processing challenges.
Purpose: This study explored the lived experiences of youth performers in a sensory friendly performance The research examined youth performers' sensory friendly participation experiences, including their perceptions of sensory friendly program components and their preparation and training for the sensory friendly performance.
Design: A qualitative phenomenological approach was used to investigate performers’ sensory friendly performance experiences. Semi-structured focus group interviews were conducted, transcribed, and analyzed to determine common themes.
Results: Thematic analysis yielded the following four themes: sensory friendly performances as novel experiences, enjoyable performer experiences, performing was different but not lesser, and performers encouraged the expansion of sensory friendly performances. Themes were consistent with the research found in the existing literature. Results contributed suggestions for improvements in training and promoting the sensory friendly performance. Performers deemed modifications as benign and were not largely impacted by them during their performance. Performers felt the performance’s mission strongly aligned with their own views on inclusion.