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By Joyce Douglas, R.N., M.B.A. — Pediatric Alliance — Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Division


The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is presenting this country’s first-ever autism-friendly performance of The Nutcracker at the Benedum Theater in Pittsburgh on Friday, December 27, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.  Pediatric Alliance is proud to support this important event by raffling off tickets to families whose children would really appreciate the experience!


My story—1990’s:

When my husband and I were first married, we enjoyed attending the Pittsburgh Ballet’s various performances.  In addition, our extended family typically joined us each December for the annual Nutcracker performance.  This was our way of “kicking off” our holiday season.  We naively assumed that we would share this passion with our children.

In November 1996, my daughter was diagnosed with autism.  Needless to say, everything changed in our lives.  The challenges were many, and the thought of ever being able to attend a ballet with our beautiful daughter was simply something that was too far down on the list of “hopes and dreams”.

The “details” for families affected by autism:

Today, thanks to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, families affected by autism CAN have this opportunity.  How?  Simply stated, our ballet has blended the needs of families with autism while still preserving the artistic integrity of this performance.  This includes:

  • Lowering sound and light levels so there are not sudden changes
  • Eliminating the fire flares that signal Drosselmeyer’s magic tricks
  • Keeping the house lights at half throughout the performance
  • Relaxing the house rules—you are free to get up, move around and leave
  • Electronics…yes!
  • Qualified volunteers scattered throughout the theatre to assist
  • Quiet areas and activity areas in the lobby should your child need a break
  • Fidget objects and ear plugs will be available


Who Can Attend?

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre recognizes that this needs to be a safe event for our families.  Therefore, each group attending must have at least one member on the autism spectrum.

How to enter our raffle:

Type the following information in the comments box below this post (this information will not be shared):

  • Parent Name and Email address
  • Child’s Name
  • Number of tickets desired (2-6 per family)

OR, you can email the information above to

We’ll accept one entry per family per day, but you can enter every day until we pick the winners!

Winners will be randomly picked on Friday, December 20.  Tickets will be mailed to the winners’ homes.


My Story-Today

Today, my daughter is 19 years-old and doing quite well.  She is able to attend the ballet and sit through just about any performance.  We accomplished this the hard way:  buying many tickets and leaving early many times until we finally made it through an entire performance.  Yes, it was humiliating, expensive, and took many years to accomplish…but that was all we had “back then”.  Thank you, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, for giving families affected by autism this opportunity to sit as a family!  Hopefully, the rest of the United States will follow your lead soon!