April is Autism Awareness Month–an opportunity to spread autism awareness, acceptance, and to draw attention to the tens of thousands diagnosed with autism each year. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability, with signs appearing during early childhood, and may affect an individual’s capability to communicate or interact with others. Those with ASD can be affected differently and have varying degrees of the disorder. Some behaviors associated with autism are delayed learning of language, difficulty holding a conversation, poor motor skills, and sensory sensitivities. However, someone on the spectrum may experience all of these symptoms, some, or other behaviors as well. Diagnosis of autism will vary from person to person.
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, throughout New York City, there are a ton of events for those with autism and their families to go to. From special performances to workshops, April will be filled with activities–check out some of the highlights happening this month. For resources for families with autistic children, check here.
Big Umbrella Festival at Lincoln Center
This will be the first year that Lincoln Center launches their own Big Umbrella Festival–a month-long festival dedicated to arts programs for children with autism and their families.
There will be three original interactive theater productions: Light Show, a light and shadow show creating dreamy landscapes that takes families on a multisensory adventure; Up and Away, a puppet and interactive play where audience members will get to sit in their very own hot air balloon; and Oddysea, where the audience will get to immerse in the oceanic journey of Crab and Turtle. Tickets are available online or at the box offices.
In addition, there will be a variety of relaxed performances to attend, such as the kickoff event on April 14, where Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could will perform an Americana mashup for the audience.
The Big Umbrella Festival will not only have performances to see, but there will also be different workshops and classes to attend. Listen to a storytime reading of “Hello Lighthouse” by Sophie Blackwall, take a music class and learn the rhythms of jazz, or even participate in a ballet lesson with the New York City Ballet.
ASD Workshops at the New York Hall of Science
Twice a month, the New York Hall of Science features interactive, hands-on workshops for those on the autism spectrum and their families. These projects are geared towards younger children, specifically ages 3-5. Each workshop has a small teacher-to-student ratio so children will be able to practice their focusing/concentration, social cognition, and other important skills.
This month, the workshops will focus on environment-friendly activities with a Recycled Robots project on April 14. At this event, families will get the opportunity to create their very own toy robots made out of recycled materials. Then on April 22, families will delve into their senses by working with and learning about flowers as well as other natural materials in the Flower Explorations workshop.
Pre-registration is required for these free events. For more information, families can call 718-683-9366 or email [email protected].
Music for Autism Performances throughout New York City
Music for Autism is an organization that has been putting on concerts for those on the spectrum since it came to the United States in 2007. The concerts are autism-friendly and are geared towards a more interactive environment for both audience members and performers. In the past, Music for Autism concerts have featured professional musicians, Grammy-nominated and Tony award-winning artists, and more.
In April, families will have three opportunities to see a Music for Autism concert. The first, on April 8, features the talents of the Guidonian Hand, a trombone collective. The other concert is on April 21 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where audience members will get to hear the compositions of the Fair Trade Trio, who perform pieces inspired by female composers. The final concert of the month will be held at the Third Street Music School on April 22, with a special performance from Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, a member of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.
Air Play: Autism-Friendly at the New Victory Theatre
In this adapted performance of Air Play, where lighting and sound elements have been accommodated for those with sensory sensitivity needs, families will be able to see the wonder of umbrellas taking flight, balloons with minds of their own–it’s a modern circus! Featuring acts from the Acrobuffos, Seth Bloom, and Christina Gelsone, it will be a light and AIRy treat for everyone to enjoy.