By Date

Valero Sensory Friendly Program

Equitable services for the creative arts to promote justice, inclusion, and empowerment for all.

Valero Sensory Friendly Performances are inclusive matinees that address the needs of all individuals in a welcoming environment. While the integrity and authenticity of the performance remain the same, certain production elements will be modified to create an accommodating experience. This provides an accessible opportunity for everyone to enjoy the arts.

All Valero Sensory-Friendly Performances at The Tobin Center are provided at no cost to students, teachers, caregivers, and families thanks to generous contributions from Valero and additional support from The Najim Family Foundation, Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation, and The Hearst Foundations. While there is no cost for these performances, tickets are required.

Click here to join our Generation NEXT mailing list to be the first to find out about new sensory-friendly performance announcements. 

Download Sensory Friendly FAQ's Simplified
Download Sensory Friendly FAQ's Large Print 



What to Expect the Day of the Performance


  • Production time shortened to 1 hour
  • House opens 1 hour early to provide extra time for transition into theatre
  • Lower sound level, especially for startling or loud sounds
  • Visual, jump scares, or startle effects slowed or softened
  • All flash or strobe lighting reduced to a pulse
  • No lights shine into audience
  • No confetti canons or similar effects
  • Space throughout the theatre for standing and movement
  • Relaxed house rules:
    • Lights to remain on, at a low level, throughout performance
    • Comfort drinks and snacks allowed inside theatre
    • Tablets and cellphones allowed inside theatre
    • Exiting, re-entering, and movement inside theatre encouraged
    • Patrons are free to talk and vocalize
  • Limited crowds and visitors during the day and time of performance
  • Specially trained staff and volunteers to support the needs of all families
  • Judgement free zone
Special Features


Floor Sensory Path 

Series of self-guided movements to help patrons channel excess energy and movement.

Wheelchair Accessible Sensory Path 

Series of self-guided movements that can be completed seated or in a wheelchair to help patrons channel excess energy and movement.

Sensory Supports Table 

Free sensory tools for patrons to borrow during the performance to increase their comfort in the theatre.

  • Ear plugs
  • Sunglasses
  • Fidgets

Calming Center with Peaceful Place

Tranquil, controlled environment to provide patrons with a break from the excitement and sensory input of the performance.

  • Tables and chairs for coloring and drawing
    • Standard crayons, finger crayons, universal cuffs
  • Gray couches with embroidered fleece blankets
  • Rocking chair with cushions
  • Giant bean bag chair
  • Curtain lights
  • Sensory Bottles
  • “Peaceful Place”
    • Quiet corner separated by darkened curtains to further reduce environmental sensory input.

Adult Changing Room

Private room offering more space than family bathrooms for patrons to take care of their personal business.

Pre-Show Materials

Character Card
Rack card providing short plot summary and character descriptions with character images to familiarize yourself with the upcoming performance.

Meet Your Seat
A virtual opportunity to view the layout of the building and familiarize yourself with our different seating options.

  • Coming soon!

Pre-Visit Stories
Short stories containing real images of the Tobin Center describing what you will experience and what you should expect during your visit.

Sensory Map
A map depicting the locations of all the sensory friendly special features and the types of sensory input you can expect to experience in each area.

  • Coming soon!

Tour the Tobin
A short video tour of the Tobin Center that showcases special photos of the building, sensory friendly features, and information about the performing arts center.

  • Coming soon!

Visual Schedule
A compliment to the pre-visit stories. A visual schedule is a customizable template with picture flashcards that can be arranged in a sequence to help you organize and prepare for your visit.

Who can attend the show?

Everyone is welcome to attend any Valero Sensory Friendly performance. There are no guest limits or requirements to participate.

How much does it cost to attend the show?

All Valero Sensory-Friendly Performances at The Tobin Center are provided at no cost to students, teachers, caregivers, and families thanks to generous contributions from Valero and additional support from The Najim Family Foundation, Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation, and The Hearst Foundations. While there is no cost for this performance, tickets are required.

What time should we arrive to the show?

It is recommended to arrive to the Tobin Center approximately 30 minutes early to ensure ample time to find a parking space and locate your seat. The Tobin Center has a parking garage located off of Fourth Street for extra parking as needed. Additionally, there will be an extended drop-off zone if you or your loved one is unable to safely travel from the parking garage to the theatre. Ushers will be available at the drop-off zone to assist with this transition as needed. If you need more time, the house doors will be open one hour before the performance.

How long does the show last?

Valero Sensory Friendly performances run approximately one hour.

If my family member is unable to sit through the entire show, will we be able to leave and come back into the performance hall?

Ushers will be located at each exit and entrance of the HEB Performance Hall to help you and your family members safely leave and come back into the space. Extra room has also been allotted within the theatre for audience members to move around as needed during the performance. The lights in the house will be slightly raised for safety.
Additionally, a quiet space with calming sensory tools has been designated within the Feik Rotunda. A movement space with sensory paths for those audience members who need extra activity to self-regulate has also been designated within the lobby. Please ask an usher for directions if you need assistance in locating any of these services. A live-streamed performance will be aired in the lobby for all to continue experiencing the show outside of the HEB Performance Hall.

Is there anything I can do to prepare my family for this event ahead of time to best support their experience?

The Tobin Center has provided a social story, virtual tour, character cards and a sensory guide for you and your family member prior to the performance. These items are available to view online or download here. Hardcopies of these materials will also be available upon request the day of the performance.

Are we able to bring food/drinks/fidgets/tablet/headphones into the performance hall?

You are welcome to bring any preferred item (seating device or cushion, fidgets, noise-reduction headphones, tablet, toy, blanket, food or drink) from home that supports you or your family member’s comfort and sensory needs. Sensory tools that will be provided for use within the HEB Performance Hall during the show, include a limited selection of fidgets, sunglasses, ear plugs, and a limited number of noise-reduction headphones.
These items will be located in bins at the Patron Services window. Please ask an usher stationed at this window for assistance in receiving these items. Bins to place used items will be located at all performance hall exits to ensure sanitization.

Where are accessible bathrooms and changing rooms located?

Family bathrooms are located on the lower level, grand-tier level and mezzanine level. These bathrooms offer extra room, privacy, and a child changing station. If you or your family member require more space and a larger changing station, an adult changing area located near the Carlos Alvarez Theatre will be available to accommodate these needs. A mother’s room is also located near the Carlos Alvarez Theatre to offer a private, quiet space to nurse. Please ask an usher for directions if you need help finding these spaces.

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