Proud Members ACT - American CommunityTheater Autism Society of Minnesota Autism Speaks Down Syndrome Association of Mn.
The Performing Arts Center is dedicated in loving memory of Rose Marie Underhill who had a love of dance, music and for children. She passed away April 6, 2007. "Mom is dancing with the Angels"
Social Skills and Drama January 7, 2015 by Shannon "Center for Engaging Autism
I’ll start this post by revealing my bias. I love theatre. I’d always known it was a fun activity and a great way to connect with like minded kids. But studying... it in college helped me see the true power of theatre in communities. It is a place for communities to see themselves clearly, but more importantly, it is a safe space for us to practice what we want to see in our everyday lives. It is a powerful tool, when used correctly, for change, both personal and social. I’ve seen it work wonders. So when I learned about a program that uses drama to unleash the social potential in kids with autism I jumped at the chance to enroll my son. I was a bit apprehensive about his response to this new activity. He doesn’t like to perform or be the center of attention, plus structured movement is a challenge for him. But I’ve read the research that shows the impact therapy like this has on kids with autism. It’s promising that repeated studies show an improvement in face perception, social interaction, and reductions in stress for those participating in “theatre therapy” groups. So we signed up for Drama Interaction’s Adaptive Arts eight-week session, which just ended this weekend. I was immediately struck with my son’s response to the program. He was fully engaged, developed a connection with the other kids as well as the staff, and surprised me with his easy humor and understanding of how to “perform.” Each week he looked forward to drama club and ran into the session. His confidence has grown, and I’ve noticed an increase in his mastery of nonverbal communication skills. Needless to say we are signing up for another session, which starts next week (January 12). Here’s the details so you can enroll your child as well: Adaptive Theater Programs Students participate in acting, improvisation, song, dance, puppetry and more). Great for building social skills, communication, problem solving and making friends.
Testomonial by parent- June Oliver, son Kai (Jan. 6, 2015)
I highly recommend Drama Interaction for any special needs age. My son started six years ago. He is on the Autism Spectrum, and was non verbal. Thanks to Bonnie's incredible program some of my son's first words were dance, music, and Bonnie! If you love your special child, teenager or adult give them the gift of Drama Interaction!! June
Written by Katrina Kramlich of "Inspired Spectrums"
If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to volunteer in an improv/social skills acting class with a group of extraordinary actors who also happen to have autism, I would seriously recommend it. It’s the fastest 45 minutes you will ever experience!
When Bonnie Neumann, founder of Drama Interaction and In the Company of Kids wrote in my Minnesota autism and play group on facebook about her theater class for children with special needs, I had to find out more about it. I had read some research recently into how theater programs had helped children learn social skills. I have always loved theater (probably why I have no problem playing with a child while being videoed and watched by a team of staff.) I called her up and offered to volunteer in order to learn more and see how it works. I am so used to working with children one on one so the idea of a class of children with autism seemed a bit daunting to me and I wanted to see how it went.
Bonnie is the perfect blend of cheerleader, facilitator, show person, people allower, and theater coach. She grew up in theater, starting dancing when she was young and continuing to perform her whole life. She designed the adaptive theater class many years ago with the help of Special Education Teachers. Bonnie wanted everyone to have the chance to experience theater and it just so turns out that theater gives everyone a chance to act out and process some of the little nuances of human interaction. Thus it makes the perfect class to work on social skills too!
The class followed a schedule that Bonnie customized for each day and allowed the students the opportunity to have plenty of movement while they acted. It included activities like body warm ups, voice warm ups, tongue twisters, acting out emotions, acting out things that happen to you, theater games, improv games, practicing lines, acting out skits. Each week built off the last week’s skills helping students ease into learning a performance.
The staff was partly professional staff and educated volunteers. We participated as well in order to model the exercises and of course have fun. There was enough staff for lots of encouragement and occasional individual attention when needed that didn’t distract from others. Everyone was really accepting of everyone’s sensory needs and allowed for each person to stim/ism/take care of themselves and when appropriate encouraged them again to participate.
I was blown away on the very first day by the amount of enthusiasm, participation and creativity of all the students in the class. I helped out in 2 classes, one for children younger than 12 and one for teenagers between 12 and 18. The students were all over the spectrum although they were all verbal. The classes were 45 minutes each. While they followed a schedule, the classes varied a lot, the energy was often intense, and the concepts were all fairly new to all the kids. Even so all the students did fantastic! When it came time for add on storytelling at the end – I have never heard such creativity and big picture thinking. It was incredible!
I think a lot of the fun and ease of the class goes to the incredibly accepting atmosphere that Drama Interaction puts forth. We all were totally okay with whatever happened, if a student needed to run a bit, that was okay, we just gently brought them back. If a student had a sensory meltdown there was no pressure to change and participate. The students and staff did a great job supporting each other at exactly the stage they were at.
I think this sort of class would be rather easy to start for those who have some expertise. I know it could help children everywhere if there are those generous souls who would be accepting enough and confident enough to look into these programs. Bonnie certainly seems willing to help all she meets.
For those near the Twin Cities of Minnesota a new class is about to happen with Drama Interaction. You still have to time to register. Classes start next week, January 12th and there are various times throughout the metro area. Here is the link for more information http://www.cokartscenter.com/dramainteraction501c3.html I know I will be back sometime in the future, its also mega fun to volunteer!
In the meantime, I have always considered playroom time with your child as a sort of improv theater. We are always modeling social skills through fun and excitement in the playroom. Children learn and process best through play and experience. The more excited we are to play with them, the more they will learn. So the next time you go into the playroom, tap into your inner actor and amp up your animations. The more expressive you are with your body and face the more engaged your child will be and the easier they will be able to interpret your body language.
5/7/14 Opportunity Partners Program
Hi Bonnie! I heard you called wondering if Susie is going to be in Drama Interaction again. The answer is YES! Can you give me payment info?
I am beyond proud and happy that Susie is involved in this program. I was so amazed at how great she did in the final performance. She seemed confident, which is such a big deal for her. Susie has a really hard time getting out of her comfort zone, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see her participate in something positive that she loves! So thank you for running this program. You’re really making one of Susie’s dreams come true.
Katie Binning/Program Director Hammer Residences
5/25/11 Thanks so much for the pictures. I can't tell you how impressed we all were with the tour. The students said it was the best tour they had ever had. I sent pictures to our administrator so they knew how well the students worked in a program such as yours. Bonnie, thanks so much for your patience, your preparation, the treats, and the time you gave our group. Not often we find someone in our surrounding community with such an open heart as yours. Thanks again!
Transition Specialist, MRVSEC
“The therapeutic nature of “The Arts” cannot be ignored. The passion and enthusiasm that Bonnie Kaye displays while working with children is incomparable and easily seen in the eyes and smiles of those that she mentors. Children of ALL skills levels should be able to create, perform, and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in their ability- Bonnie Kaye fosters just that!” January 28, 2011
Maria Carlson Senior Behavior TX, Lovaas Institute Midwest
Liza Robson, Owner, AVR,Inc
“Bonnie is a sharp business woman with an incredible talent for working with children of all ages and abilities. She is considerate, professional, and keeps an eye at all times on her target goals. She is a joy to work with.” January 28, 2011
Janet Johnson, Owner-Internet Marketing/Social Media Specialist, Janets Marketing Biz
“I have worked with Bonnie on a recent project and she is great to work with. She gets me the information quickly and efficiently, so the communication has been great. I also have had my 6 year old son at her Creative Arts Center for 2 years and he absolutely loves it. They are always coming up with new and creative ideas for the children in our Acting, Singing, Dancing and Tumbling class. He absolutely loves going every week!” January 28, 2011
Benjamin enjoys absolutely everything about this class! He has met new friends and loves learning new ways to express himself through movement and imaginary play. I love that Benjamin has become more social and creative. His role playing and self play has become very creative. Thank you for all of your hard work and patience you have shown Benjamin. I can't wait to start my young son in one of your classes. Erin Davies Fantasy Footloose Class
Nicolas LOVES coming to "Acting Class"! He enjoys charades and singing and especially seems to love pretending to play instruments. He also really enjoys seeing the teachers every week. I love how excited Nicolas gets when I tell him we're going to class. He is so happy when he's there. He enjoys his friendships with the other boys with Down Syndrome and looks forward to seeing them. I like the teachers how warm and welcoming and loving they are to him. I like the structure and how well organized each class is. I also enjoy my chance to catch up with other parents too! I love this class and would recomend it to everyone I know who has a child with special needs! Katherine Diaz DCD special needs class
Megan loves the music, tumbling, tap and the freeze dance the most. I love that Megan is included. Thank you for having a place where kids with disabilities are welcome:) Amy Hett Dance combo
We love everything! Especially liked that you took the children through a real audition process. Love Love Love Tim and Carrie! The teachers really know their stuff! They were also very good with the kids and they made it fun. I loved the format with an actual audition and that they showed us how a resume might look. Loved the summer camps . Liked that the kids were taught real skills, not just playing. Lisa Ryan Acting - Voice Class
Marcus enjoys being able to express himself as an actor among peers. He also enjoys being able to write and act out his scripts. I think he also enjoys the energy of the teachers and the acceptance of the other kids. Marcus also enjoys performing. The teachers are all very positive and nurturing, the space is nice and bright, kid friendly and spacious. I like the building having wifi service so I can bring my laptop. Enjoy the classical music played in the lobby as well. Bob Wellhoefer ASD Theater Class
Zachary enjoys the tapping sequences. He loves demonstrating his moves and practicing at home. I like involving the kids in the arts and giving them opportunities I never had. Great Teachers! Aimee Whiteside Dance combo
Lexi loves the singing and dancing and the good friends she has made. I like the variety of exposure to different things they do, and the upbeat staff which is always here to each the class. Amy Sylvester Fantasy Footloose
I like the mix of the dance and the Arts. How there are many activities for all kids. It seems like it is fast paced so there are many different activities in one session. Jessie especially enjoys the instruments and the dramatic play (acting). I like the take home work and homework that is given to the children. She especially liked memorizing the riddle and presenting it to the class. Megan Mohowald Fantasy Footloose
Kristina enjoys the tumbling and dancing in her class. She also enjoys coming and meeting her friends. I like that she can interact with children her own age. Its really good for her coordination and she is getting better on her feet and walking since she started dance. Tom Jacobsen Dance Combo
My 7-year-old son is currently enrolled in the Wednesday afternoon Acting Adventures and Tap Dance classes and loves it. Just yesterday we were both having a really cranky day. In frustration, I declared that we were just going to stay home and skip theater class this week. He put his foot down very firmly that missing theater class was not an option--he also got himself ready to go without further argument. I can think of no better testimonial for a class:) Nic Rosenau (homeschool class)
Greetings from Holland! Thank you for the registration form. I wish Thomas could join you for the fall semester but we are living in the Netherlands now. He will miss his Thursday class for sure. Thank you for all you did for him last spring/summer. He had such a wonderful experience at In the Company of Kids. We hope to find something similar here. You guys do such amazing things for the kids. Best of luck in the fall semester. Kind regards, Antonia, Bryan and of course Thomas Edwardson
In The Company of Kids "Performing" Arts Center Drama Interaction, 501 C3 nonprofit