In 2018, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City created an innovative musical, designed just for children with autism and their families. Up and Away was a sold-out event in which each child became part of the story and journeyed through the set with actors trained on the sensitivities and challenges of children with autism.  The children rode in make-believe, hot air balloons to different destinations on set that were designed to engage their senses in a soothing, autism-friendly way.

There was one barrier: the production was intentionally small, available only to eight families at a time.  To enable greater numbers of families to access this work, NEXT for AUTISM funded the filming of the musical in 360, a virtual reality format that enabled viewers at home to enter the stage with the actors just like the audience at Lincoln Center was able to.

The 360 virtual reality version is now available to families online  – a special treat  during COVID-19 sheltering in place.  

Up and Away can be viewed on YouTube in typical HD format, or in 360 degree format using virtual reality glasses that can be purchased for as little as eight dollars online.

We’re excited to have been a part of this innovation, thanks to proceeds from our Night of Too Many Stars 2017 event, done in partnership with HBO!

To view Up and Away, click HERE.

To learn how the producers, Trusty Sidekick, went about researching and creating Up and Away, take a look at this documentary.