Autism & Drama: Lessons from Integrated Residencies Celebrating Neurodiversity

In this asynchronous session, StageWrite presents the ADAPTS (Autism & Drama with Artists, Parents, Teachers & Students) program, which uses theatre to connect artists with students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their typically developing peer partners in shared creative experiences with the goal of fostering inclusivity and celebrating neurodiversity.

Presenters explore how integrated drama residencies support the social-emotional development of children with ASD and their typically developing peers. Presenters discuss how integrated drama experiences empower neurotypical students to be advocates for their classmates with ASD and the ways this method of school-wide change can ensure equitable access to the arts for students with disabilities and create a positive impact on the entire community.

Presenter Bios

As co-founder and executive director of StageWrite, Elana Lagerquist has dedicated the past 18 years to empowering youth to become actively engaged in their education and passionate about learning through theatre arts. Prior to StageWrite, Elana was a tenured teacher with San Francisco Unified School District. She holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from UC Santa Cruz and a master’s degree in educational theatre from NYU. In 2013, Elana piloted StageWrite’s ADAPTS program to connect students with autism and typically developing peer partners through creative experiences that foster inclusivity and celebrate neurodiversity.

David Neufeld is an inclusion coach and consultant at StageWrite. David works with families, schools, businesses and organizations, specializing in autism and other developmental disabilities. A former professional actor, he holds a doctorate in special education from UC Berkeley and is the creator of Integrated Drama Groups, a play and social group model based on Pamela Wolfberg’s Integrated Play Groups. He also serves as the director of learning support at Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and daughters. Learn more about his work.

Lauren Kivowitz, teaching artist at StageWrite, is a performer and inclusion advocate with a master’s degree in applied theatre. As a teaching artist, Lauren facilitates classes for folks of all ages and abilities, using combinations of improv, role-play, music, storytelling and play-building. Lauren is a strong believer in the transformative power of theatre and is the founder of Inclusive Arts, an organization whose mission is to create opportunities to engage in critical dialogue and meaningful action surrounding issues of access, inclusion and ableism in theatre and other creative arts.

Access additional 2020 AEP Virtual Gathering resources here.

Author profile