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Art & Autism

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April is Autism Awareness Month and a moment for me to reflect on the unique challenges that affect people with Autism, particularly during this profoundly challenging year. And, as a parent of a 25-year old young man with Autism, I have some perspective that may allow us to help this group in need.

If you met my son Alex today, you might have a hard time understanding what drives him. He has very limited verbal skills, so everything there is to know about Alex requires deep observation. On the other hand, there are folks with Autism Spectrum Disorder with good communication skills, but significant social deficiencies. These are the two hallmarks of Autism… communication and social capacity. Now that we have that understood, let’s go a little bit deeper.

As a result of the sphere of challenges facing kids and adults with Autism, they rely on advocacy from caregivers to help them “find their way” in life and “find their thing” that brings them joy. That thing can be music or art, or it can be one of a myriad of things. Over the last year, Covid has closed the door to so many things that all of us need in our life. But, if you are on the Autism Spectrum and have no capacity to truly understand what has been happening, the challenges of the last year have been even greater.

At One River School, we make a home for people of all ages on the Autism spectrum and include them in our typical classes to the best of our ability. We work closely with caregivers to set fair expectations and measure progress. We have also created smaller, self-contained classes for lower functioning students who need more support. Reach out to your local school to learn more.

It is our mission to teach art to all people of all skill levels and we are grateful for every chance we have to connect with someone with Autism and help them grow.