Play Our Way: Private Playtimes for Families affected by Autism – Next Playtime is February 7th

Families of a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are invited to the Museum for a special, private playtime. The Museum will be closed to the general public, providing a more conducive play environment. Our staff has made adjustments to the lighting in our exhibit and play areas, and noise-reducing headphones will be available. Play Our Way is free, and pre-registration is not required – just come over for as little or as long as you like!

The Play Our Way monthly playtimes will continue through February 2015 thanks to the support of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine.

For more information about this program, contact Louisa Donelson at Louisa@kitetails.org or call 828-1234 x227

Saturday, February 7th Play Our Way runs 8-10am.

Show and Tell Gallery Displays Art Across the Autism Spectrum

The Show and Tell Gallery features the work young Maine artists diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Why are we showing this work? Because for a group that sometimes has trouble with connection and expression, it is significant when they are able to express some of their inner world. We believe art is a powerful way to communicate, and we are honored to be displaying these pieces. We celebrate this gift of expression.
 
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a sobering report stating that roughly 1 in 55 students in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder. Autism and spectrum disorders (Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS]) are among the fastest-growing developmental disabilities in the U.S.
 
“For those without much knowledge of autism spectrum disorders, let me provide you with a brief description: people with ASD may have trouble with social communication. Some may not be able to talk. Some may be able to talk, but we will miss the social cues in what you are saying, miss cues about physical space, pacing of words, tone of voice, and other elements of non-verbal language. This will make it difficult for us to have friends, and can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. Often, people on the autism spectrum have intense interests that they focus on to the exclusion of all else. The world can often be a very overwhelming place, and this helps us structure it. Sensory integration challenges, such as being super sensitive to sounds, touch, light, movement, smells, texture and so on are also part of autism spectrum disorders. But there is also a sense of loyalty, of joy, of honesty and dependability that are all great aspects of those on the autism spectrum. Someone with autism is someone who is dependable and a hard worker. Someone who genuinely cares about you with all their hearts, even if they sometimes have trouble showing it. To be known by someone on the autism spectrum is to be loved more fully and less conditionally than you perhaps have ever experienced.” – Museum volunteer Kate Goldfield
 
The Show and Tell Gallery is one of several Museum & Theatre programs serving children and families affected by ASD. To learn about our Play Our Way private playtimes, workshops, and other program offerings, please contact Louisa Donelson.
The Show and Tell Gallery can be seen in the stairwell of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.
 
This project is made possible by the generosity of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine. 
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Show and Tell Gallery showcases biggest collection yet!

Louisa creates a sign for the fourth annual Show and Tell Gallery.

More than 40 artists ages 5 to 17 from as far away as Caribou and Limestone submitted work for the 2013 Show and Tell Gallery, a collection of work by youth on the autism spectrum. Each April since 2009, the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine has collected art work by young people with autism spectrum disorder and hangs the show for Autism Awareness Month. The show will be on display in the Museum & Theatre’s Stairwell Gallery through August 2013.

Artist Olivia Frankl created this remarkable reproduction of a Monet.

This year’s gallery includes more than 60 pieces, ranging from fanciful pipe cleaner dragons to striking photographs to a remarkably faithful replica of Monet’s The Boat at Giverny. Many students submitted work with encouragement from art teachers and special education professionals who recognized both their students’ talent and the value of an opportunity to share their creativity.

“Some children on the spectrum struggle with communication and may not speak to peers or

“Worry Not Dolls” by artist Kayla Campbell illustrates the creative use of mixed media you’ll see throughout the gallery.

teachers about their achievements,” says Louisa Donelson, the educator at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine who founded the gallery and responsible for its curation. “The Show and Tell Gallery gives them an opportunity to take pride in their work. Their teachers, families and even classmates come to see it. It helps the whole community recognize how much kids on the spectrum are capable of, and how many Maine families are affected by spectrum disorders.”

Support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine and Walmart funds both the Show and Tell Gallery and Play Our Way, a series of free,

Louisa (bottom center) accepts Maine Autism Alliance’s Step Up! for Autism Award on behalf of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.

private playtimes for children on the autism spectrum and their families. This funding also supports a series of small art workshops led by Donelson for youth on the autism spectrum. (Space is still available in spring workshops; interested families can email louisa@kitetails.org for information.)

Last Wednesday (April 3rd), the Maine Autism Alliance awarded the Museum & Theatre one of its first Step Up for Autism awards, recognizing the Show and Tell Gallery, Donelson’s art workshops, and the Play Our Way Playtimes as vital resources for Maine’s autism community.

Calling all young artists on the autism spectrum!

For me, one of the only things that comes close to making art is viewing art. That’s why I am so excited for the 4th annual Show and Tell Gallery! Through March 27th, we’re accepting art submissions from children and teens on the autism spectrum. We’re eager to see a wide variety of art in all media – including (but not at all limited to) painting, drawing, digital or computer art, photography, and sculpture. If you have artwork but don’t have a mat or frame for it, just let us know – we’re happy to help get your piece gallery-ready!

If you know a child or teen diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder who is 5-18 years old (or in grades K-12), and might like to see their art hanging at the Museum & Theatre, please share this opportunity with him/her! Having curated this gallery for several years, I can tell you that the experience of seeing a child’s artwork on display here at the Museum & Theatre is a special opportunity that has a big impact on the artists and their families. We’ll have a special friends and family reception to open the show, and the work will hang in our front stairwell gallery throughout the spring and summer.  (Don’t worry about handing over your masterpiece – all pieces of art will be returned.)

If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact me at Louisa@kitetails.org or 207-828-1234 x227.

For detailed guidelines and the official submission form, click here.