Opening Out is a programme of work that gives children with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) access to magical, memorable and moving experiences that they would not otherwise encounter.
The programme places specially trained artists into special schools and centres. Here they work intimately with children with an ASD, helping participants explore their creativity and engage with the world around them in a new way.
Artists and children are brought together in a familiar setting and participants are introduced to elements of performance. Teachers and specialist staff, as well as the artists, create a safe environment for participants and share the tools, resources and practises that help engage the children. This skill-sharing creates a lasting legacy for the programme in each hosting school, and influences the work of the artists beyond the project.
In 2013-14 Opening Out engaged 60 children in four creative residencies across the UK – the results exceeded even our own expectations.
Their participation has a lasting impact – the programme has seen elective mutes choose to speak; children who never make eye contact find they can fix their focus and children who find it difficult to settle become completely engrossed.
Now we aim to increase these positive outcomes and offer residencies to more schools and reach more children.