Autism-friendly improv classes help kids in Fort Myers

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Kids participate in an improv class at Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers.

Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers provides inclusive improv and theater classes for children on the autism spectrum.

Alliance for the Arts is partnering with Family Initiative Inc. to provide a variety of activities to, “expand art opportunities and promote mental and emotional growth for young artists with autism.”

Last week, the CDC announced that the Autism spectrum disorder is more prevalent than previously thought.

Alliance’s improv classes are able to channel some of the effects of the disorder in a positive direction, helping the kids to live healthy and productive lives.

Leddy has autism spectrum disorder. Her focus and behavior may seem a little different than her peers. And the world may seem a little bit different to her than it does to most people.

But at Alliance for the Arts, her differences are identified and honed as she interacts with other children with autism.

“She’s been hesitant to engage and she was pretty quiet when she first started,” said Angeli Vandrie, the Vice President of Family Initiative Inc.

Through exercises and games in improv class, she’s come out of her shell.

“We’ve really seen her blossom and even take a leadership role in the classes demonstrating for kids who might have more challenges,” said Vandrie.

Improv is the perfect fit for some of these children.

“For most kids who have an autism diagnosis, the language and social skills tend to be an area of deficit or an area of concern,” Vandrie said. “The improv class is an area to develop those skills.”

Parents see the difference when their children can learn in this safe and accepting environment – something they may not get at school.

“Even if she’s really quirky or cranky, she fits in and I think that’s really special.”

To read more about the classes and for registration, visit the Alliance’s website.

“To see the creativity in these kids is outstanding. They have so much talent.”


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