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Welcoming Visitors with Autism at Cultural Institutions: A Workshop Series for Museum Professionals

on Tue, 06/28/2011 - 6:34pm

Recent studies reveal that at least one in every 110 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism. With the proper staff training, program development, and community outreach, museums can and should be resources for improving the quality of life for people of all ages with autism. Thanks to a generous grant from The FAR Fund, the Museum Access Consortium is pleased to announce that it will be hosting a free four-part workshop series over the next year for museum professionals to explore how cultural institutions can adapt existing resources to provide a welcoming experience for visitors who have autism and their families.

Workshop 1: Introduction to Autism

Irene Cavanagh, a long-time practitioner in the disabilities field, will lead an interactive training session that introduces Autism, including the history of and current state of its diagnosis in the United States. She will also discuss the characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders and their impact on behavior, social interaction, and learning, and respond to questions from the audience. Listen to this podcast.

Date/Time: Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 from 3:00-5:00PM

Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Art Study Room at the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education. Please use street level entrance on Fifth Avenue at 81st Street.

Presenter: Irene Cavanagh, practitioner and consultant on autism, cognitive development, and learning (see bio below)

Advance reservations required: Space is limited. Call 212-650-2010 or email access@metmuseum.org to reserve yourself a spot.

Workshop 2: Strategies for Providing Welcoming Experiences in a Museum Setting

Irene Cavanagh, long-time practitioner in the disabilities field, will introduce how people with autism learn and explore approaches for structuring a conducive learning environment based on her own experience in the field and applied behavioral analysis (ABA) methodologies.  Within that framework, the presentation will offer practical suggestions for engaging visitors on the spectrum in museum settings through sharing feedback from school-based educators who have brought people who have autism on field trips to museums around the city and eliciting examples from the workshop's attendees about their own practices and approaches at various cultural institutions. 

Date/Time: Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 from 3:00-5:00PM

Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Studio Room at the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education. Please use street level entrance on Fifth Avenue at 81st Street.

Presenter: Irene Cavanagh, practitioner and consultant on autism, cognitive development, and learning (see bio below)

Advance reservations required: Space is limited. Call 212-650-2010 or email access@metmuseum.org to reserve yourself a spot.

About the Presenter:

MAC offers a special thanks to presenter Irene Cavanagh for sharing her knowledge and expertise as part of this workshop series.  She is an expert in the disabilities field with over 28 years of experience and is currently the Director of Family Services at the Eden II Programs, an institution dedicated to enabling chilren and adults who have autism to achieve the highest quality of life throughout their lives through applied behavioral analysis (ABA) approaches.  She received her master's degree from Long Island University in Special Education, and SBL/SDL certification from The College of St. Rose in Educational Leadership and Supervision. She is currently pursing a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Concordia University. Ms. Cavanagh has presented at local and national conferences on a variety of topics related to autism, applied behavior analysis, and multi cultural sensitivity.  She has served as an adjunct at both Brooklyn College and the College of New Rochelle teaching courses in Early Childhood Special Ed as well as Cognition and Instruction and is active in the development of special education in the Middle East.

Workshop 3: Strategies for Providing Welcoming Experiences in a Museum Setting

Gil Tippy, PsyD, Clinical Director and Founder of the Rebecca School in Manhattan, and Aaron Feinstein, Director of Actionplay, will present on the Developmental, Individual-difference, Relationship-based (DIR) model of work with children with Autism.  Particular emphasis will be given to how this model will help museum professionals facilitate the interaction between their institutions and the children on the Autism Spectrum, regardless of the model being used in the treatment of students.  Dr. Tippy will explain how the DIR model is consisten with the goals of cultural institutions in their interactions with the community, and Aaron Feinstein will run an experiential exercise that will help solidify the concepts laid out by Dr. Tippy.

Date/Time: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 from 3:00-5:00PM (Please stay tuned to our blog for upcoming announcements)

Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Art Study Room at the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education. Please use street level entrance on Fifth Avenue at 81st Street.

Presenters: Dr. Gil Tippy and Aaron Feinstein

Advance reservations required: Space is limited. Call 212-650-2010 or email access@metmuseum.org to reserve yourself a spot.

About the Presenters:

Gil Tippy, PsyD, is one of the founders of the Rebecca School and is its Clinical Director.  He has evaluated hundreds of children from the Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-based perspective, having been mentored by Dr. Stanley Greenspan, the late creator of the DIR model.  He is the author of "Respecting Autism" along with Dr. Greenspan (Vantage Press, 2011).  He is actively involved with creating museum programs for children on the Autism Spectrum, and in this capacity is the Clinical Director of "Actionplay".  Dr. Tippy also has a large clinical practice in Oyster Bay, New York.  He has two children and lives on Long Island with his wife and daughter.

Aaron Feinstein is an educator, mentor, artist, and believer in advocating for children with special needs.  He is the CEO/Founder of Actionplay which strives to build educational arts and cultural programming that is inclusive of children with autism, learning disabilities, and special needs.  He is also the Director of The Miracle Project, a musical theater and film program for children with autism, special needs, and their typically developing siblings and peers.  As a child, Aaron struggled with learning disabilities and found that theater and music programs offered an accepting environment to connect him socially and academically with his peers.  In 2004 while living in Los Angeles, Aaron met Elaine Hall, who encouraged Aaron to bring his passion and talents in theater andmusic to the special needs community.  Aaron was co-director with Elaine of the pilot Miracle Project after-school program, which became the subject of the two-time Emmy award-winning documentary, "Autism: The Musical".  During this time, Aaron also worked as a Developmental Interventionist under the guidance of Sharon Lowery and Danakae Bonahoom at SmartStart Developmental Learning Center.  Danakae inspired Aaron to work from his heart and to “follow the child’s need®,” which had a profound impact on Aaron's ability to see the desire to communicate in the interactions of all children.  Aaron is a multi-talented artist, and the arts became his way to help children with special needs to develop their own unique voice.  In 2006, Aaron moved to Brooklyn and started theater and film programs at special needs schools, including The Rebecca School in Manhattan and Celebrate the Children in New Jersey.  In 2009-2010, Aaron brought the Miracle Project to the Rebecca School in Manhattan.  Aaron is also an accomplished director and musician and has directed, performed, and lectured nationally and internationally, as well as receiving an MFA in theatre directing from UCLA.

Workshop 4: Welcoming Visitors who have Autism: Museum Professionals Share Their Experiences

Join us on Wednesday, March 7th to participate in an interactive workshop that will focus on sharing how we, as museum professionals, are learning from creating and offering programs for visitors who are on the autism spectrum.  Representatives from the Museum at Eldridge Street, New York Transit Museum, and Queens Museum of Art will share their experiences of adapting programs for visitors who have autism followed by a question and answer period.  This session will also provide the opportunity for workshop attendees to participate in facilitated discussions about their own best practices, questions, and ideas. 

Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 from 3:00-5:00PM

Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Sacerdote Lecture Hall at the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education. Please use street level entrance on Fifth Avenue at 81st Street.

Presenters: Lynette Morse from the New York Transit Museum, Sarah Verity from the Museum at Eldridge Street, and Michelle Lopez and Jennifer Oppito-Candiano from the Queens Museum of Art.

Advance reservations required (but free!):  Space is limited. Please register by clicking on the following link: http://museumaccess.eventbrite.com/ Please contact Cindy VandenBosch at museumaccess@gmail.com if you have any questions about registration.  Special thanks to the FAR Fund for making this workshop possible.

Accessibility: All of these workshops will be held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a facility that is wheelchair accessible and where Assistive Listening Devices and neck loops are available.  If you require any other access accommodations, please call 212-650-2010 or email access@metmuseum.org at least one week before the workshop.

Available:

Upon request:

About MAC

The Museum Access Consortium (MAC) strives to enable people with disabilities to access cultural facilities of all types. To learn more about MAC, join MAC on Facebook and see City Access New York for more information and a (free) membership form.