Read all the latest feedback about the app from the children and parents taking part in our research on the Show and Tell App Facebook page
"I am delighted to endorse Circus Starr's Show and Tell app which I think could potentially be a major breakthrough for families.
I have been working with and diagnosing children with Autism for over thirty years and the simple pleasure of a night out as a whole family is often denied them.
This can lead further to feeling alienated from ordinary society and their children being stigmatised. This app will be a major breakthrough in supporting families prior to, during and after the event.
Not only will they enjoy the circus but they will then be encouraged to explore other new situations and experiences."
Dr Linda Buchan Axia ASD, The Consulting Rooms, Red Hill House, Hope Street, Saltney, Chester, CH4 8BU, Tel: 01244 56 76 56, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
"It's not that autistic kids won't accept anything novel, it's that they have to acclimatise to it first, so the trick is to introduce something new by stealth rather than face on.
Circus Starr’s 'Show and Tell' app gives children virtual ring-side seats (as well as helpful behind-the-scenes insights) at a circus show… so they have a good idea of what to expect before they go."
Debby Elley, Co-Editor, AuKids Magazine.
“Mahdlo is thrilled to have been invited to take part in Circus Starr’s exciting research project that will support children with autism in accessing the arts and live performance.
We like to offer our members new opportunities to broaden their horizons and enjoy new cultural experiences and the vibrant, magical and accessibility of a Big Top show gives us the perfect opportunity to do this.
With the support of the new circus app 'Show and Tell' we hope that even more children will be able to enjoy the show!”
Ability Coordinator, Mahdlo Youth Zone, Oldham
“Circus Starr have a very relaxed atmosphere so families feel they can attend without being judged. It’s nice to see our families excited about taking their children to the circus without the apprehension of other people judging them.”
“Most families with an autistic child find it extremely difficult to go out together. At the circus the children really enjoyed the evening, and that family enjoyment has a knock on effect, making life easier for them all. It is wonderful to know that there are people out there who will provide such super entertainment for children with disabilities/additional needs.”
Siblings Drew (6) and Taylor (4) both have autism and are at very different scales on the spectrum. Drew is verbal, likes to be around people and is happy in loud environments whereas Taylor is non-verbal, prefers to be alone or in a quiet space with a trusted person and can be aggressive if he feels pressured.
Clearly this makes things difficult when trying to arrange whole-family outings that will keep everyone happy and often ends up with the family splitting up to do separate activities. Mum Becky had been considering staying at home with Taylor while Dad took Drew to the circus. However, Becky tells us ...
"We had an amazing time at the circus! All four of us! My daughter was completely thrilled by all the acts and had a great time sat with her school friends. I was concerned about Taylor coping but the fast pace of the acts and the excitement they contained held his attention throughout. He even clapped and was pointing ... and for him to interact with something, rather than bury his head hin my lap or be engrossed in his iPad was very special for us. Thank you. It suprised us how well both children coped and we all left smiling which has given us hope that we can attend more events with the kids together; and therefore as a family."
Bradley is a Year 8 pupil from Elmwood School in Walsall. He is on the autistic spectrum and was an incredibly quiet individual when he first started at the school, with many challenges to overcome, from socialising with peers to getting muddy in PE.
The trip to Circus Starr was Bradley's first extra curricular trip. Both school and mum were worried about how he would handle the situation as it meant he would need to have his tea at school, spend extra time with staff he wasn't too familiar with ... plus, the very nature of circus was something that could easily upset Bradley with all the bright lights, loud noises, the quirky humour and spirit of it all.
Bradley proved everyone's fears to be unfounded and enjoyed the circus immensely, which resulted in him behaving to the best of his ability (surprising even himself).
He joined in with the sprit of the occasion and rather than shying away he actually got involved and not only laughed along but participated with the rest of the crowd!
This trip has been an incredibly proud moment for Bradley and his mum as it shows just how much progress he has made and what he can achieve when given the opportunity.
“A wonderful experience to share. Live performance is a fantastic experience especially for young people with Autism as no language is required so it is very accessible”
Joseph is on the autistic spectrum meaning he is hyper-sensitive to loud noises and nervous of crowds and unknown situations.
However, for this keen gymnast, the appeal of the circus completely outweighed any anxieties he may otherwise have had.
His mum, Louise, explains, "This was Joseph's second trip to Circus Starr ... he was so excited and counting down the days to the show as he'd loved it so much the first time. The staff at the circus were fantastic. We were welcomed into the Big Top by some gentlemen who were particularly good with us...cheeful and friendly but not too forceful (which is really important as this can upset a lot of autistic children).
Circus Starr made Joseph feel so safe, he even went up to buy his own candyfloss at the interval. Normally he wouldn't feel brave enough to do that, but he felt comfortable in that environment ... plus there was the novelty factor of being served by one of the acrobats! This was a really big thing for him and is a significant step closer to him becoming more independent as I can now use this 'candyfloss experience' as a reinforcement tool for future situations."
Aaron's mum Kelly explains,
"My son attends the Haughton School in Madley, its a Special Needs School, so it was great for us all to be invited to a show that really catered for him and his friends.
Aaron had never been to a circus before and was amazed at all the different performances. He was a bit worried about the clowns beforehand, but didn't find them scary when he saw them.
"He loved the Ringmaster and Peanuts the Clown and really got involved when they asked the audience to cheer, stamp and dance which was great as we didn't think he would... he even wanted to get up on stage and help Peanuts when the Ringmaster told him off!"
It was such a delight to see him laughing and interacting with the performers, I was totally blown away by how good all the acts were with the audience.
Both me and my son absolutely loved the show - it was a great family night out and we can't wait to see you all again!"
Six year old Jensen suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, speech delay and hyper sensitive hearing. He struggles with many social activities, making and maintaining friendships, new situations, changes to routine, communication and everyday activities that most of us take for granted.
At Circus Starr, Jensen could have fun in a situation where there were other children with similar conditions to his own meaning that no one stared or commented if his behaviour varied from that of a 'normal' six year old.
For the first time in a long time, his mum and dad felt they didn't have to apologise for or explain Jensen's behaviour.
This led to a feeling of belonging and a very rare enjoyable day out for the whole family, including Jensen's two sisters.
Alfie has learning difficulties and autism and had a ball with sister Saffron and his good friend Oliver when they attended the circus through Northampton-based organisation Daisy Chain - a charity that provides services for children affected by autism and their families as it recognises that autism does not only affect the individual, but the whole family as well. His mum Sue told us how much he enjoyed the show.
"I haven't seen Alfie that animated about anything for a long time ... it is without a doubt the best circus I have visited and we'll be singing your praises to everyone!"
Nicole Killacky, Branch Officer for Dover and Deal NAS attended the Circus Starr performance in Canterbury. She explains,
We were very pleased to be given a ring side seat, my 7 year old son Jayden had lots to say during the show it made us smile when he said "I can not believe my eyes."
He got a little scared when the lady came out with the fire and jumped in my lap but I explained its safe and she is the one in danger but has practiced it many times which is what makes the circus special.
He loved the clown and the pirates and often talks about it now. My son is very safety cautious so it was good for him to realise that shows like these may have danger but are safe for the public.
Isla Rose (5) has autism and on arrival at the circus was quite upset by the noise but when her friend Alice (5) came and sat next to her, she settled quickly and really enjoyed it in the end ... her mum said she was dancing around, having a great time and showing off!
Jayden G (7) and his sister Imogen (5) attended Circus Starr's Spring Tour Circus with their mum and grandad.
Jayden has sensory processing disorder but was able to wear his ear defenders without worry of judgment from other people and both kids loved it and their mum and grandad said they enjoyed it just as much.
Our son is autistic. His behaviour can be very challenging in public and there are very few places we can take him for entertainment. Coming to see Circus Starr enables my son to experience not only new wonderful performances, but sit amongst an audience in a Theatre or a Big Top, which teaches him social skills.
“ Our son is autistic. His behaviour can be very challenging in public and there are very few places we can take him for entertainment. Coming to see Circus Starr enables my son to experience not only new wonderful performances, but sit amongst an audience in a Theatre or a Big Top, which teaches him social skills.”
“Social stories and visual supports can be really valuable tools for many people with autism, helping them navigate situations like days out that many of us might take for granted”
Heather Wildsmith, Cultural Development Manager, National Autistic Society
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