Disney on Ice creates magic for children with autism

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Transformations Autism Treatment CenterTwenty-five children from a Bartlett-based autism center got a special tour of Disney On Ice when it came to Memphis on Sept. 23.

The sensory touch tour involved setting aside a private time for children from Transformations Autism Treatment Center to gather in the Draft Room at the FedEx Forum. There, skaters from Disney on Ice interacted with the children and their families, letting them engage with props and costumes from the show.

Transformations’ Director of Development John Holtzman said that 10-12 of the cast members volunteered to take part. That meant a good ratio of happy, smiling people on hand to help.
For one cast member, participating was particularly meaningful because he has a brother of his own who is on the autism spectrum, he said.

As a special surprise, the families had a meet-and-greet and photo opportunity with a star of the show.

“Mickey Mouse walked in,” Holtzman said. "And of course kids lit up."

Some young people were unsure of the familiar character up close and in person, much like children sometimes look askance at Santa, but he said most relaxed enough to stand close and have a photo made.

“Overall, it was excitement, and the parents were happy for their children to have this experience,” Holtzman said.

Children and their families also received complimentary tickets to attend the evening’s performance.

More information is available online at disneyonice.com, transformingautism.com and feldentertainment.com.

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to bartlett.editor@journalinc.com.