At Circus for the Senses, a one-ring show coming to Washington this month, the toughest act isn't juggling or acrobatics. The real challenge is playing for an audience that might not see or hear the performance.

The circus, free to special-needs kids and their families, goes to lengths to make sure they enjoy the show. Kids with vision problems can listen to narration through wireless headsets, said Michael Christensen, co-founder and creative director of Big Apple Circus, the sponsor of the event. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing can watch American Sign Language interpreters. Children with autism or learning disabilities are also welcome.

The narration of the trapeze act, featuring acrobats called a flyer and a catcher, might sound like this: "Here comes one: The catcher on the far left is swinging; his hands are free. There's a guy swinging on the right. . . . The catcher throws him back in the air -- and the flyer catches the swing. Wow! That was exciting." The narration, Christensen said, is "very quick, because we have to keep pace with the act."

Besides acrobats and jugglers, the circus will feature Grandma the Clown. A half-hour "touch session," in which children can pet the circus horse and small dogs and visit with entertainers, follows the show. The circus takes place Wed., Sept. 28, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Dulles Town Center.

To order tickets by Sept. 22, call 212-268-2500, extension 149, or see the Web site www.bigapplecircus.org.

-- Samantha Sordyl

Caroline Carbaugh of Great Falls got a turn in the ring after a circus in 2003.