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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 February 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: January 6, 2021

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

Location: Online via Zoom

Project: Stories from the Sea

Create art inspired by undersea stories and utilising a variety of materials including tape, watercolors, crayons, markers, glue, and construction paper. The bottom of the ocean never looked this good!


  • Tape
  • Watercolor paint
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Construction paper

Download CMA’s Social Story for Online Classes

Ages 8+

Registration Opens February 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: February 6, 2021

Time: 11 AM to 12 PM ET

Location: Online via Zoom

Project: Paper Bag Puppets Inspired by Sam Eiler

Caregivers and children will work together to create paper bag puppets. Participants will use paper lunch bags, paper, and a variety of sensory materials to create a puppet of a favorite character or something from their imagination. At the end of the session, families will share their creations with each other.

To connect to CMA’s theme of leadership, Inclusive 8+ classes will be inspired by leaders in the art community who have been diagnosed with Autism. Sam Eiler is a multi-disciplinary artist who is inspired by illustrated characters and works in a wide variety of mediums, such as drawing, ceramics, and puppet-making. Sam’s puppet artwork has evolved from a simple sock Kermit to fully-realized felt and wire personalities. Sam collaborates with Sage Studio, a studio and gallery supporting artists with disabilities, in Austin, Texas.


  • Lunch-size paper bags
  • Scissors
  • Liquid glue (can apply with a Q-tip if needed)
  • Masking or clear tape
  • Colorful paper (any kind)
  • Markers or crayons
  • Optional: stapler, one-hole punch, googly eyes, plus any sensory materials you would like to include such as cotton balls, pom poms, feathers, etc.

Download CMA’s Social Story 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)


“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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