My Turn Autism Program Reaches Milestone in Second Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – ANN ARBOR, MICH. – MARCH 14, 2017 – The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum’s popular My Turn program, a free monthly event designed specifically for families with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), has been renewed for a second year and enhanced with special performances. Returning partners in this year’s program include the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, Leslie Science & Nature Center, Therapeutic Riding, Inc., the University of Michigan Museum of Art, and the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. New partners include Arts in Motion & Friends, Wild Swan Theater, and the Arab American National Museum—My Turn’s first partner outside Washtenaw County.

My Turn offers families affected by ASD a less sensory stimulating, crowd-free environment to explore popular venues at their own pace and in their own way, including an option to participate in specially designed hands-on activities. My Turn also provides online prep materials for each program, including social stories and picture schedules. Plus, each venue features a designated quiet room that includes weighted lap pads and tactile toys from a sensory tool kit.

New this year, My Turn will offer live performances by the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, Arts in Motion & Friends, and Wild Swan Theater. “This is a very important step in bringing arts and culture to people of all abilities,” said Larissa Kunynskyj, accessibility program coordinator for the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and point person for the My Turn program. “These kids and their families don’t often get the chance to feel completely at ease when seeing live performances for fear of not fitting in somehow. My Turn eliminates that discomfort and can open up a whole new world of creative discovery for children affected by ASD.”

Dr. Roger Lauer, from the Center for Neuropsychology Learning and Development, along with specialists from Aim High School, will provide training and support to My Turn partners.

“In its first year, more than 635 visitors attended the My Turn program,” said Mel Drumm, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. “Hundreds of children affected by ASD were able to enjoy experiences that would have otherwise been difficult or even impossible for them to attend. There’s no doubt that My Turn is meeting a need in our community while creating lifelong memories for children and families.”

Visitors to My Turn originated from nine counties in Southeast Michigan outside of Washtenaw, including nearly 24 percent from Wayne County and 23 percent from Oakland County.

My Turn will be offered on the second Sunday of each month. Live performances will be on Saturdays. Program times will vary, but all will be offered before each venue is open to the public. Each My Turn partner will determine how their venue will be used, which spaces and galleries will be open, and what types of programming will be offered. Each venue will also determine a recommended age range for their programming, however, all ages will be welcome.

For more information on My Turn, visit MyTurnCommunity.org or email myturn@aahom.org.

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