Though I have had some exposure to these topics through my art education coursework, and the Community Connections classes I teach at the gallery, I was floored by just how many different perspectives and ideas surrounded me that day. Presenters and panelists included artists, teachers, designers, parents, representatives from organizations and arts institutions across the state, medical professionals and students themselves. Each speaker and attendee brought their own unique experiences with the function of autism in the artistic community, and I learned a lot about how I, as an arts educator and coordinator of gallery programs, can improve the lives of many through simple alterations and understanding.
Keynote speaker, Susanne Smith Roley, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA, discussed her work in occupational therapy and how the arts have been utilized not only to enrich the therapeutic process, but also within her own research. Speakers from arts institutes such as the Vanderelli Room and Royal Shakespeare Company shared how they have been able to make their programs more accessible and inclusive through methods of instruction that cater to different populations. A representative from a team of OSU designers presented their project on redesigning a clinic for patients with autism so that it was more accessible, comforting and inclusive. Arts and music educators shared with us their adapted tools for accessibility as well as methods of instruction that allow for a broader understanding and higher success rate in teaching to diverse learning classrooms. Artists, dancers, actors and musicians shared their talents, as well as their experiences in how arts and autism overlap to enrich lives and create magic in the arts and the creative learning process.
Conference partners also include the Autism Speaks/Autism Treatment Network at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, VSA Ohio and the Autism Society of Central Ohio. Check out some of the pictures below to see the fun in action!