Teaching special needs children with autism spectrum disorders has always been somewhat of a challenge. Children with autism have an array of special needs ranging from social and communcational challenges to an inability to tolerate certain sounds or bright lights.
To offer even more learning resources for children with autism, the Flynn Center in Burlington, VT is taking a unique approach.
On Sunday, Feb. 15, the performing arts center will turn down the lights and lower the volume for its autism-friendly performance of “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” The live-action stage performance will feature the same musical lessons about math, grammar and history that have been beloved by children for decades, according to the Burlington Free Press. The performance is also intended to educate its patrons on the realities of living with autism.
This sensory-friendly performance is the first time “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” has been performed with autistic children in mind, the Flynn says. The Flynn has a long history of gearing its performances to audiences with disabilities. This season alone, the center has held a workshop and student matinee for blind and visually impaired students.
The “School House Rock Live!” performance’s organizers collaborated with the Howard Center and VSA Vermont to determine the best methods for making the event autism-friendly, the Burlington Free Press reports. In addition to dimming the lights and turning down the volume, the Flynn will be converting one of its visual arts galleries into a comfortable space for anyone who needs to leave in the middle of the performance. The Flynn will also be providing sunglasses and noise-cancelling headphones to anyone in the audience who needs them.
Ultimately, this event is intended to demonstrate how easy it can be for all of us to accommodate people diagnosed with disabilities like autism.
“It’s a matter of consideration,” says Judy Chalmer, executive director of VSA Vermont. “The world does not have to be specialists in order to be inclusive.”
Have any other teaching tips, advice or resources for children with autism? Want to know more about working with special needs children? Share your thoughts and ask us anything about autism and school in the comments below. For more information, read this website.