MILLBURN, N.J.: Acting New Jersey governor Kim Guadagno announced that the Paper Mill Playhouse has won the 2015 Jefferson Award for Public Service for its commitment to autism-friendly performances. The award, which honors individuals and organizations for maximizing public good without expectation of compensation, was accepted by the leaders of Paper Mill’s Autism Advisory Team in a ceremony at the Newark Museum.
Paper Mill was the nation’s first professional theater to offer performances designed to enable all patrons, including those with autism and other developmental disabilities, “to enjoy live theatre with independence and dignity,” according to an accompanying statement. Members of Paper Mill’s Autism Advisory Team, all of whom have a minimum of two years experience working with people with autism or other developmental disorders, pay special attention to the lighting and sound of autism-friendly performances. Specialist support and preparation materials are also provided on-site.
Upcoming autism-friendly performances at Paper Mill include Curious George (Nov. 7), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Dec. 7), and A Christmas Story: The Musical (Dec. 29). Paper Mill also offers programs specifically designed for audiences that are blind, deaf, and hard-of-hearing.