Sensory-Friendly “Christmas Carol” (plus great ideas for church and school!)

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Special events abound during the holiday season…and this can sometimes pose a challenge for families affected by disabilities. Fortunately, some organizations are beginning to understand this dilemma…and they’re reaching out in some wonderful ways!

Here in Cleveland, the Great Lakes Theatre Festival’s production of “A Christmas Carol” provides cheer, exceptional acting and beautiful music. It’s a tradition many families enjoy as they usher in the Christmas season. However, attending a live theatre production of any kind can be overwhelming and distressing for kids with disabilities. The lights, loud music, and large space combine to set kids up for difficulty. In addition, going to a show may be an unfamiliar experience, stirring anxiety.

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This year, the theatre company is hosting a “Sensory-Friendly” Christmas Carol on Wednesday, November 27 at 11 am. According to the website, “for this special performance, accommodations will be made, including a supportive audience environment, designated quiet areas, (and) adjustments to light and sound.” In addition, several online resources have been created to help families prepare. These include a social story about going to see the play, a simplified, picture version of the story, and information about Charles Dickens.

Community Partners for this event are The Autism Theatre Initiative, Milestones Autism Organization, and the Cuyahoga County Department of Developmental Disabilities.

This event can provide some great ideas for schools and churches during this season. When planning a large scale event, such as a Christmas Pageant or band concert, consider adding a social story or other information to the website, and alert families that this is available. By doing this, parents can help to prepare their children for what is coming, increasing the likelihood for success. In addition, securing a “quiet area” where students can take refuge and calm down can be helpful; mark this area prominently so that folks know it is available. Again, this sends a strong message that you want your guests to feel comfortable. Finally, consider offering a “quiet” option, when lights and sound are muted a bit. This can make the experience manageable, and help kids with special needs to remain calm so the whole family will enjoy their time together.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Sensory-Friendly Christmas Carol, click here.

Do you have ideas that would make this season welcoming for families affected by disabilities? Please share them in the comment section, or send me a message!

God Bless Us…every one.

~Katie

Photos courtesy aceshowbiz.com; Great Lakes Theatre Festival

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Helloooooo out there…and Inclusion Fusion

Hi, my friends!
It has been a loooooong while since I’ve blogged. I’m so sorry! Life has been quite busy  (and I know it is for you, too!) I have so much to tell you, but you’ll have to wait on that, because this is the most exciting thing that is happening this week:

This is a FREE online conference featuring fabulous topics and dedicated speakers. The depth and breadth of this year’s conference is amazing…and you can enjoy it from the comfort of your very own home or office. Just log in here to create a user name and password, and you’ll be on your way to some fabulous learning.

In addition to the video lectures, you can also participate in live chats with some of the speakers during the day, and also join our evening tweet chats.

Hope you can join us…there’s something for everyone…and everyone’s welcome!
~Katie

What’s Up (part 2!): A Preview for Fall, 2012

We are so excited about what we have planned for you this fall…new tools, new downloads, new ways to connect with our team as you learn about special needs and grow your programs! Here are a few more details…

We just launched a brand new website! Please click on over and register with us. You’ll find downloads, articles, forms and inspiration! And…it’s all FREE!

On October 13, come and see us in the great state of Texas! Steve Grcevich will be teaching two workshops at the Faith and Disability Symposium in Katy, TX. This conference is full of unique workshops designed to take your ministry to a higher level…and guaranteed to encourage you. Our friend and colleague, Denise Briley is one of the leaders of this conference…you MUST meet her! Her enthusiasm  for inclusion is priceless. To learn more about this conference, click here.

If you’re in Northeast Ohio, you can find us at the Annual Autism Forum on Thursday, October 18. We’ll be participating in a panel on faith-based communities. We’d love to see you there! For more information, contact The ARC of Stark County at 330-492-5225.

Later this fall, we’ll travel to central Pennsylvania for the Engage Children’s Ministry Training Event on November 9 and 10. Steve will be teaching two breakouts there, and he hopes to meet you! This is a fast-growing conference designed to meet the needs of pastors and volunteers by offering over 40 workshops, plus a keynote with Sue Miller! And…the conference is only $20!

Next, our second annual online training event, Inclusion Fusion, is scheduled for November 12-16. This conference is FREE…and anyone with a computer, smart phone or tablet can access it from anywhere in the world! You’ll be treated to wisdom from Amy Dolan, Jim Pierson, Beth Guckenberger, Shannon Dingle, Aaron Scheffler, and many, many more! Registration opens on Sunday at www.inclusionfusion.org

And, last but not least, we’re collaborating with the publishers of K! Magazine to give you a year-long, in-depth series of articles on special needs inclusion. We hope this will be helpful as you plan and develop your programs and relationships.

Happy, happy autumn…hope yours is full of crisp apples and crisp ideas!
Katie