At most classical music concerts, audiences are expected to be reverentially silent and still – a near impossibility for autistic kids who frequently have sensory issues and can’t fully control their speech or movement.
But noisemakers and wigglers are more than welcome at “Chords for Kids,” a free concert for families with autistic or special needs children. It’s performed by the North Central College student ensemble Concert Winds at Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville.
“It was a just a group of friends with an idea,” said concert planner and “Chords for Kids” co-founder Susan Maynes of St. Charles.
After learning about a combined classical and operatic concert for autistic children staged in Salt Lake City by Utah Symphony-Utah Opera (which started annual autism concerts back in 2003), Maynes was inspired to try and do something similar locally.
“It was very much a fledgling, grass-roots movement,” said Jamie Walden-Mather of St. Charles, who is also an adjunct professor at North Central College. “This was a niche that really needed to be filled.”