Performing Arts Promote Inclusion

 

 

 

 

England pilots an autism-family-friendly performance program, The Relaxed Performance Project, to be produced at 10 prominent theaters throughout the country. While autism awareness is growing, it is still all too easy for others to confuse a child’s behavior as bad, and many parents of children with autism are discouraged from attending cultural events. Some parents, even, report having been asked to leave productions because of disturbance. England’s collaborative theater project is not only promoting inclusion, but also integration: inviting families to attend performances without restrictions on smartphone/tablet use, entrance/exit during the show, or noise. The production, an adaption of the best-selling book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, relates the autism experience with a central character that demonstrates an unspecified behavioral condition. Among the theaters partaking in this pilot program is The Royal Shakespeare Company, whose actress Kelly Hunter began the Hunter Heartbeat Method utilizing Shakespeare’s rhythm (iambic pentameter) to aid autistics with communication. Ohio State University has adapted The Royal Shakespeare Company’s model and is piloting a ‘Shakespeare and Autism’ study. The theater community is redefining performance, utilizing the potential for interactive stimulation and structured stories to aid autistics and include them in the world of culture and arts. This April, for World Autism Month, William Paterson University in New Jersey held a sensory-friendly production in their children’s theater and requested that ushers loosen up on rules and regulations for behavior. At Northwestern University in Illinois, students have created a “Theater Stands with Autism” program. The first production will take-stage this May. The show, “Diving In,” will be an interactive performance tailored to sensory sensitivity associated with autism. The set is similar in affect to a snoezlen room, allowing the audience to engage in various sensory stimulants. These performances open up shared cultural experiences for the family, but also provide opportunities to meet and share in experiences with other families of children with autism. To read more about these projects or find out how to attend, visit the links below. Share your experience with theater here!

Relaxed Performance Project

Ohio State University ‘Autism and Shakespeare’

“Autism-friendly Theatre That Welcomes Curious Incidents.” The Independent. N.p., 24 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/autismfriendly-theatre-that-welcomes-curious-incidents-in-the-nighttime-8586430.html>.

“Performance Offers Sensory-friendly Theater for Children with Autism.”NorthJersey.com. N.p., 30 Mar. 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.northjersey.com/community/200690141_Performance_offers_sensory-friendly_theater_for_children_with_autism.html>.

“Theatre Stands with Autism Prepares for Cross-spectrum Adventure.” Daily Northwestern. N.p., 24 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://dailynorthwestern.com/2013/04/24/thecurrent/theatre-stands-with-autism-prepares-for-cross-spectrum-adventure/>.

 

Special Education Expert Presents Music Education Strategies & Strengths

Tuesday, at Shema Kolainu Hear Our Voices, Stephen Shore Ed. D. held a workshop on music education for children on the autism spectrum. Shore completed his doctoral degree in special education at Boston University and now teaches at Adelphi University in New York. Having been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and non-verbal until the age of 4, Shore brings a unique perspective to the field of special education. He attributes much of his success to the comprehensive interventions his parents guided and the music education he received from an early age. Subsequently, his approach to education is one of both specialization and inclusion. Shore’s strategies are developed particularly for the varying abilities of autistics, but are applicable for neurotypical education as well, allowing for integrated classrooms. While music is often recognized for it’s therapeutic benefits, Shore’s focus is not therapy, but structured, sustained education. Today’s workshop demonstrated the potential of music education to increase communicative abilities, strengthen neurological development in youth, foster social inclusion, and provide potential career paths for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Shore charismatically relayed stories of his students’ astonishing talents. One anecdote told of a non-verbal young man who, when guided hand-over-hand while playing piano, sang clear as day. Shore suggests that the structure, support, and focus the student experienced while guided to play the piano enabled him to sing, though he could not speak typically. Drawing from examples of students demonstrating expert knowledge in areas, who are unable to express understanding through certain mediums, Shore makes the case for specialized assessments in education in general, not just for students with developmental disabilities.

Check out Dr. Stephen Shore’s work and many publications at his website: http://www.autismasperger.net/. The workshop, ‘Music for Children on the Autism Spectrum,’ will be streaming soon—stay tuned to see Dr. Stephen Shore speak

Autism Education Expert, Stephen Shore, Presents Workshop ‘Music For Children On The Autism Spectrum’ At Shema Kolainu

Tomorrow, Shema Kolainu Hear Our Voices will be holding a workshop on ‘Music for Children on the Autism Spectrum.’ Presenting the workshop will be expert Stephen Shore Ed. D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at Adelphi University. Shore is an inspiring individual who is on the Autism Spectrum himself. Having been nonverbal until the age of four and having completed a doctoral dissertation on the needs of those on the autism spectrum at Boston University, Shore is a testament to education and therapeutic strategies. He will be making a case for inclusion of autistic children in typically music courses as well as individualized music training and therapy as a means of communication development. Shore asserts that the “structural regularity” of music aids autistic children with communication in varying ways, contingent on their place among the spectrum. For non-verbal children, music may serve as the form of communication itself. Shore’s musical methods go further than skill development, drawing ideology from the proven physiological benefits of music as well. On Shore’s website testimonial for music therapy, he references a study performed by a neurologist/musician at Beth Israel Hospital, which showed an area of nerve fibers that transmits signals between the two brain hemispheres to be 12% thicker among keyboard players who began training before 7 years of age. To register for Stephen Shore’s workshop ‘Music for Children on the Autism Spectrum’ at Shema Kolainu Hear Our Voices click here! The workshop is April 16th, 2013 at 10 AM. Learn more about Stephen Shore’s work at his personal website or his Adelphi University page.

Shakespearian Drama-Based Intervention Aims to Aid Communication for Autistic Youth

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio State University adapts a drama-based intervention program created by actress Kelly Hunter of the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. The program, called Hunter Heartbeat Method, utilizes the poetic rhythm of Shakespear (iambic pentameter) to aid autistic children with communication. The London program has been working with autistic youth for 20 years and rendered remarkable progress in verbal skills, eye contact, and facial emotional recognition. The Hunter Heartbeat Method is not just play-acting, it is a series of structured games based on the famous Shakespearean play The Tempest that work various communicative functions within a structure that is active, rewarding, and culturally educational. The youth practice speaking in emotive tones by tapping their hearts like a heartbeat (or in iamic pentameter) while taking turns saying the same word with different emotive connotations. A video of Ohio State University’s pilot program can be seen on their webpage, at http://nisonger.osu.edu/shakespeare-autism. Arts for Autism programs are becoming more and more popular worldwide, providing mediums of expression for the autistic community. This drama-based intervention is easily replicable and cost-efficient. If proven successful, this could be a great step for our school systems still lacking proper special needs resources. Tell us, at Shema Kolainu Hear Our Voices, how you feel about intervention strategies like this and check out our innovative programs!

Gallery Exhibits Autistic Student’s Photography

Last night, the You & I gallery in Kennewick, WA displayed the work of 20-year-old Austin Saget, who is an austic. Saget is in his final year of high school and the exhibition featured his senior project. His interest in photography began 5 years ago when his neighbors gave him a film camera. This same neighbor acted as a mentor for Saget , fostering his interest and supporting his outlet. Saget photographs primarily landscape and architectural patterns. Brooke Yunt, co-owner of You & I gallery, describes Saget’s work passionately saying, “This kid has natural talent oozing from his work.”

Saget’s is yet another beautiful success story of coping with ASD. With the encouragement of his community, Saget has found a form of expression that is satisfying and tapped into his talents. At Shema Kolainu we encourage arts education and believe in fostering the individual talents of our children.

 

 

For more details about Austin Saget’s exhibition:

http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2013/03/07/2302276/kennewick-artwalk-to-feature-autistic.html