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Inclusive Saturday Classes for Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

CMA’s Inclusive Saturday Classes provide a free opportunity for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their family. CMA Teaching Artists are trained in facilitating structured workshops that are specifically designed to help children with Autism develop social skills, creative problem-solving, and expression through art. The program’s supportive environment also helps strengthen family ties and builds a sense of community for families affected by Autism.

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Ages 1-7

Registration Opens March 1

Audience: Children ages 1-7 years old with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families

Led by Tom Burnett, CMA’s Director of stART Studio and Early Childhood Education, these free virtual classes encourage children to explore different art mediums through sensory experiences, music, and movement activities. Children build motor skills and self-regulated independence and social skills while connecting with siblings and caregivers.

Date: March 6, 2021

Time: 10:30 AM to 11:10 AM ET

Location: Online via Zoom

Project: Clay Day

It’s clay day — playdough, Model Magic, modeling clay, and more! Be sure to have extra materials on hand to add pizzazz to your sculptures, such as pipe cleaners, beads, buttons, and markers.

Materials:

  • One pack of modeling clay (we suggest this Sargent Art Clay from Blick) or play dough (click here for homemade playdough recipe from our stART Studio)
  • Cardboard square or paper plate to mount your sculpture
  • Table or surface that is ok to play on

Download CMA’s Welcome Guide for Online Classes

Ages 8+

Registration Opens March 1

Audience: Children ages 8-15 years old with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families

This free class uses art-making to build peer-to-peer relationships in a virtual setting. Families will look closely at artwork as inspiration for creating individual pieces while exploring with household art materials.

Dates: March 6, 2021

Time: 11 AM to 12 PM ET

Location: Online via Zoom

Project: What You See Clay Sculptures Inspired by Angela Weddle

Caregivers and children will work together to create clay sculptures from observation. Participants will explore the basics of clay sculpture, thenl create a sculpture of an everyday object inspired by the view from their window or from their seat at home. At the end of the session, families will share their sculptures with each other, inviting us to look deeper at the everyday objects we see around us.

To connect to CMA’s theme of leadership, inclusive 8+ classes will be inspired by leaders in the art community who identify as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Angela Weddle is an internationally-recognized artist with Autism, cerebral palsy, and congenital right hemisphere brain damage. She is known for her sketchbooks, where she often draws from observation, as well as working in digital and traditional mediums. Her work includes everything from nature and animals to urban landscapes and portraiture. Angela is based in San Antonio, Texas, and credits her Autism with giving her focus with color and attention to detail in her work.

Materials: 

  • One pack of modeling clay (we suggest this Sargent Art Clay from Blick) or play dough (click here for homemade playdough recipe from our stART Studio)
  • Pencil
  • Cardboard square or paper plate to mount your sculpture
  • Table or surface that is ok to play on
  • Optional: clay tools such as plastic knives or rollers, plastic comb, patterned paper towels, pen cap, coins, or anything else that would add texture to your sculpture

Download CMA’s Welcome Guide for Online Classes

What to Expect in Each Class

  • 40-45 minute interactive art class featuring specialized lessons and engaging, hands-on projects designed specifically for children with ASD and their families to do together
  • Curriculum rooted in accessible art-making practices and CMA’s pedagogy Look, Make, Share
  • Classes are led by CMA Director of Early Childhood Education Tom Burnett (ages 1-7) and CMA School and Community Programs Manager and Teaching Artist Mackie Saylor (ages 8+)
  • Each class offers opportunities for children to examine artwork, express their ideas, socialize with peers, and explore their creativity through sensory projects and materials
  • Small class sizes allow for interaction between families and with the instructor
  • Families will need to provide their own materials (often include basic art materials and recycled / found materials from home)

FROM OUR FAMILIES

“CMA opened the opportunity for us to visit other museums. Museums helped my son become the amazing person he is, and helped me to help him, and other people with disabilities to experience and be part of museums.”

“I am always so impressed these programs at CMA are of such high quality and free of charge. Families of special-needs kids in NYC really, really, want/need to participate in the arts (and it’s a big reason everyone loves living here), but there are so many reasons this can be hard. We are very grateful.”

“​I do not think the arts are as valued in a typical school setting, so being able to participate in art activities is educational and fantastic for my daughter’s creativity. Socially, to be around other children is usually difficult for my daughter, but she did so well. The Teaching Artists were so supportive and made conversation with her.  The activities are wonderful, the workshop is fantastic, and the Teaching Artists are amazing folks.”

This program is supported by Liselotte and Robin Vince, the Barbara Hunt McLanahan Memorial Fund, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Jennifer & Jonathan Soros Foundation, The Robert Lehman Foundation, the Louis Legacy Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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