Boston Pops host first-ever sensory-friendly concert

Boston Pops host first-ever sensory-friendly concert

BOSTON — Getting the chance to hear the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall is truly a magical experience, especially during the holiday season. On Saturday, the Holiday Pops held their first-ever sensory-friendly concert designed specifically for children with autism, giving families the opportunity to have a unique experience they can share.

The sweet-sounding tones coming from Symphony Hall Saturday morning were shared in a more relaxed environment. It's the same beautiful holiday music put on by the Pops but with modifications designed for children and adults with autism or sensory sensitivity.

"We are always wanting to give as many experiences to our kids, so this accessibility is just amazing," said Robin Tarjan. "I'm actually thrilled."

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Chris and Robin Tarjan brought their 10-year-old son Christopher to the show. They say they didn't think this would be an opportunity he would ever have.

"To be able to come to Symphony Hall and be able to run around, he was doing laps in the other room, and to have that kind of an opportunity to be able to actually go inside and sit down and hear the music, we've been to the symphony and it's fantastic," Chris said.

The program of the day was designed to be interactive as well, letting kids play with instruments before the performance then giving them room to get up and dance during the show and sing along.

More than a dozen volunteers from Juvo Behavioral Health were on site to assist ushers and the Pops staff.

"The joy that these families are brought by just being accepted, we aren't asking that much just letting them be who they are, how they are, without judgement, and that happens here at the Pops," said Dena Shade-Monuteaux, the executive director of Juvo Behavioral Health.

The seating was designed to give space to families. Kids were given noise-canceling headphones if needed. Each song ended with cheers and applause.

"We are amongst our community, so all the parents kind of know what's going on, you don't have to worry about eyes being on you or judgement, it's really fantastic," Robin said.

A special experience for so many during such a joyous time of year.

"These families deal with so much, the point and stare, the whisper and judgement everywhere they go, dinner, movie theatre, even doctor's appointments," Shade Monuteaux said. "So to come here somewhere this fancy and special and be told, 'just be you,' was very much an acceptance."

The next sensory show at the Boston Pops will take place in February.