In February the Creative and Performing Arts Department presented a talent show and fundraiser with the western Massachusetts family support group Community Resources for Autism. Students affiliated with Community Resources and students from CIP performed jointly presented skits, songs, and acts for an evening of fun. Skits included the famous Abbot and Costello Who’s on First act, and songs included favorites from the Beatles and other popular artists.
Student performers worked hard as they prepared for their show, and other students worked hard to support their Success. The Social Skills department aided this effort and used this opportunity to further improve the students’ abilities in concrete social interactions.
For the fundraiser to succeed, many area businesses had to be willing to contribute items for the raffle. This provided an opportunity for students to go to these businesses that they frequented, and to speak with the managers there about the weekly performances at the Spectrum, as well as attending and supporting this event.
Social Mentors worked the students in practicing the dialogue and creating a good impression. They role played with the students, amongst students, and amongst staff. They modeled dialogue and worked on nonverbals such as posture and smiles. They considered appearance and outfits. When a student was ready, student and Social Mentor then went to town.
In all, students entered and spoke with managers of more than forty businesses. These included grocery stores, pet stores, restaurants, nail salons, hardware stores, and more. Students displayed courage and poise as they described the events that are offered and invited them to participate. These students felt a great sense of accomplishment in holding successful conversations with business leaders. And they were successful from the point of view of creating good impressions, in that more than twenty offered items for the raffle. These gifts included gift cards, purses, hardware kits, pictures, and service vouchers.
In addition, students supported the event before, during and after, and practiced in Social Skills classes in preparation for this. Before the show students greeted guests, made change with the raffle tickets, and ushered them to seats. During the intermission students helped at the bake sale to set out goods and make change. Afterward, students thanked guests for coming and helped with clean up.
Throughout this event, in the preparations, in the performances, and in the supporting roles, students helped to make this event the success that it was….a fun time, a talented performance, an opportunity for building bridges with a community support group for people with autism.
Social Skills Coordinator at CIP Berkshire