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Camp YES, AND: Teens on the spectrum and teachers – laughing and learning together

Camp YES, AND: Teens on the spectrum and teachers – laughing and learning together

Summer Camp Logo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- This summer, the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning and Indiana Resource Center for Autism at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University will offer Camp YES, AND -- an improvisational theatre camp for teens on the autism spectrum and teachers.

The Indiana Institute also has launched its first ever peer-to-peer funding campaign to raise funds for camp scholarships. Individuals interested in donating may visit

Improvisational theatre, or improv, may be familiar to people who remember watching Drew Carey and his crew make up characters, scenes and songs on the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” A growing number of arts organizations offer improv classes for teens on the autism spectrum to support them in developing relationships and social cues, flexible thinking and communication skills. Parents and teachers also report that improv classes have helped them to see teens on the spectrum in a new light.

“Improv is a lot of fun,” said camp co-director Jim Ansaldo, “and it also is a highly refined system of observing, connecting, and responding that has one major rule: Yes, and. At its heart, improv is about group agreement and support.”

Students doing improv Photo

"Teens perform with Lacy Shawn in the Hideout Theatre's improv classes."

Ansaldo also pointed out that families of youth on the autism spectrum incur significant medical expenses, “so it’s great to see that people are willing to donate to support camp scholarships.” Ansaldo, a Research Scholar at the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning, will work alongside Lacy Shawn of the Hideout Theatre in Austin, TX. Ms. Shawn is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and serves as Director of the Hideout’s Building Connections program, which offers improv classes for youth on the autism spectrum and at-risk youth.

Camp YES, AND is open to youth of ages13-18 and educators in university, K-12, and private settings – including arts organizations. During the first week of camp (June 22-26, 2015) teachers will learn the techniques of improv and their application to supporting youth on the spectrum.

During the second week (June 29-July 3, 2015), teachers and camp leaders will co-facilitate an improv camp for teens on the spectrum. To learn more about participating in the camp, visit the registration site at Camp YES AND is supported by the generous contributions of Answers for Autism.
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