Social stories were created in 1991 by Carol Gray to help teach social skills to people with autism. They are short, concise and specific descriptions of events and activities that include information about what to expect in a given situation.
Through a Pre Visit Pilot Program, SECCA and The Engaging Educator visited ABC to familiarize the students with what they would see and do on the museum visit. Through photos of the building and art, modeling a ‘museum walk’ and touch objects that would be present at the museum, students learned about expectations for the visit. ABC then printed copies of the social story for teachers to continue to go over in class, as well as hand held versions for the trip itself.
Reflections from Jen: “I think the biggest success is the level of comfort achieved in the students in a contemporary art museum. While SECCA is a welcoming space, many museums have a “be quiet and admire the art” reverence. Through our previsits as well as the visits, Alex and I have seen a marked change in the students, both with their comfort with us as well as the museum. From initial outward anxiety in the kids to several of them finding connections in their every day lives, their comfort around art and in the museum was fast and marked. Through showing objects that were touch friendly to practicing a “Museum Walk” and doing multi-model engagement strategies to view the art (ex: moving like butterflies, posing like sea creatures, imagining textures) the students successfully had visits that helped them understand how to interact with art in the museum in a safe way, and established SECCA as a place they could be comfortable (and be themselves) in. Examples: Harry connecting with an Untitled work by Sterling Allen containing a slide projector, likening it to Veggie Tales, Andrew asking to go back into the galleries and walk around after lunch, Connor showing Jen the changes of weather on the iPads, Cleo showing Jen and Alex her book in the Overlook Gallery.”