For most people the Christmas hustle and bustle, parties and pantos are just part and parcel of the festive season. But for hundreds of families across the North-east dealing with autism, it’s not quite so simple.

But this year YOU made all the difference!

The North East Autism Society gave away 100 tickets to specially-created relaxed performances of North-east pantomimes, to families who access the Society’s free services including toddler groups and parent workshops.

And to help make this a Christmas to remember all you had to do was switch work suits, shirts and ties for some fun festive fleece!

That’s right instead of your normal Christmas dressing down today – you opted for a Dressing Gown day instead!

You donned your Santa sleepwear, made a small donation and joined us for PJs for Panto.

The families who use NEAS lifeline services often receive no other support or help and often have other children who have to make room for their siblings with autism.

PJs for Panto campaign

The pantomime tickets will enable families to go out together without the worry of cost or whether the venue and show will be suitable for someone with autism.

Our family development team has worked with theatres including Gala Durham, Sunderland Empire and Sage Gateshead  to ensure the performances and locations are autism friendly, we had a line of families who we knew would love this opportunity, all we needed were individuals, schools and organisations to get behind the PJs for Panto campaign.

Kerrie Highcock from the North East Autism Society Family Development Team said: “We've had the opportunity to work with a number of theatres in the region on developing and delivering relaxed performances for people with autism and their families.

It has been fantastic to be part of something which can make a difference to so many people’s lives. A visit to the theatre can be just a standard experience for many people, but for someone with autism it can be very difficult, confusing and overwhelming. But making a few adjustments at the theatre means that people with autism can experience the show too, many for the first time.

We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who took part and also to Muckles LLP and Activa Contracts who sponsored the campaign making Christmas wishes come true for so many families.

And it’s not too late to join in. By texting NEAS17 £2 to 70070 you can still contribute to our PJs for Panto campaign. The last wave of panto participants is on December 27th at the relaxed performance of Jack and the Beanstalk at Sunderland Empire Theatre.

Find out more about the campaign at