The Arts 'n Autism after school and summer camp program was initiated by the session of Covenant Presbyterian Church in March 2004. It provides services to children from preschool to young adults with autism in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area and surrounding counties. Arts 'n Autism was conceived by two Covenant members. One a veteran teacher of children with autism in the local public schools and the other a parent of a child with autism. Both founding members are still activity involved in the development and growth of Arts ‘n Autism.
The program was designed to meet four crucial needs:
• Supervised visual and performing arts activities for children who, because of their deficiencies in language and social skills, have difficulty utilizing existing after school or recreation programs offered by public schools, churches, or other institutions in Tuscaloosa County.
• Respite for family members and other caregivers who are responsible for round the clock care of these children.
• Outreach and assistance to low-income families who would otherwise be unable to secure similar after school and summer camp services for their children with autism.
• Like any other after-school program, Arts 'n Autism meets a practical need that working families have - a safe after school environment for their children until the parents can pick them up after work.
Serving preschoolers to young adults:
Preschool through First Grade
Connects children with ASD through music, art, fine motor activities, and sensory integration therapy in a language rich curriculum. Our young students practice socialization and communication skills in all activities. This year our preschoolers have joined the yoga classes.
First grade through Fifth Grade
Provides elementary children social opportunities while engaging in enriching after school arts activities which focus on individual talents, sensitivity to sensory issues, language and social skills development.
Arts ‘n Autism Ambassadors
Group composed of Junior and Senior High Students. These students focus on learning life skills and utilization of social skills in community settings. They also continue specialized classes in their areas of interest and talent.
Our LIFE (Learning Independence for Future Education and Employment) students have graduated from high school and are ready for either work or college. The program includes vocational preparation with supervised work experience in the community. The program was piloted in 2010 and currently serves six students. Our goal is to assist students in reaching their full potential and leading happy productive lives in their communities. We want to thank The Alabama Department of Vocational services, Shelton State Community College, Ability Alliance of West Alabama, and many local businesses for embracing the LIFE program.