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Christmas concert caters to children with autism, their families

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Posted at 10:17 PM, Dec 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-15 00:17:57-05

DRAPER, Utah -- There are many concerts featuring Christmas music this time of year, but one concert in Draper earlier this week was planned with a special audience in mind: families with children who have autism spectrum disorders.

The concert was a production of the Autism Behavior Treatment Center, and clinical director Steve Michalski spoke about the event, which was held at Draper Historic Theater.

“Having a child with autism can be very difficult,” he said.” Public settings can be very intimidating for parents, where undue attention is brought by their kids' unusual behaviors. People don't understand because a lot of kids with autism look typical, they just act out.”

Here, acting out or singing out is understood by the audience and the performers.

“We've got an opportunity to let the kids do what they want,” Michalski said. “Listen to the music and get up and move around if they wish. Get up and dance, there's no intimidation for the parents.”

Troy Mangum is a supervisor at the behavioral center, and he said the kids enjoyed the show.

“There's lots of laughter and interaction, so it's not as hard for the kids, where they'd need to stay quiet for the whole hour and a half,” he said.

Mangum said it’s a good experience for their parents as well.

“It's nice to just be able to get the parents out and let them just be them, and not to worry about what other people are thinking about their child's behavior,” Mangum said.