Monday, November 05, 2007

NJ Theater Workshop for Adults with Autism

From Tina Kelley, reported in the New York Times, an article about a 12 week theater workshop at Montclair State University.
"B. Madeleine Goldfarb, the director of outreach and education at the Autism Center, helped get funding for the program. She said of the center’s clients: “Most of them have some sort of passion for something, and can be savantlike within that particular passion. How do you harness that?”
Ms. Goldfarb, who is pursuing more grants for the program, described its roots in discussions with some of the center’s clients.
“They were all sitting in their own little worlds, not communicating with one another around a big conference table, not making eye contact or engaging,” she said. She asked them what their passions were, and the atmosphere quickly became charged as a consensus grew around theater.
“There was a change in connectedness, in reciprocity, in giving suggestions, with other people in the room commenting on suggestions,” she said. “It was astounding.”
By welcoming adults, the workshop fills a crucial need. Suzanne Buchanan, the director of clinical services at the New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community, described “almost a total lack of funding of appropriate programs” for adults with autism, many of whom do not work full time.
“Having a meaningful activity where they’re working productively with others, working toward a common goal, is a really great way for them to spend their time,” Dr. Buchanan said.

No comments: