Last year, Autism Speaks awarded a Community Grant to the Intrepid Museum in New York City. The goals of the project were to provide training for Museum educators and staff to better deliver programs to participants, to launch new programs for children with ASD, and to provide a replicable model for programming at other cultural institutions.
From February 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (1) completed an initial assessment of its facilities, (2) conducted staff training, (3) formed a Parent Advisory Council, (4) delivered eight family programs that served 380 participants, and (5) worked to increase the capacity of cultural organizations who provide programs for children within the autism spectrum and their families by leading conference presentations locally and regionally, and preparing a replicable “toolkit” soon to be hosted on the Intrepid Museum’s website as a resource. The grant term was originally for twelve months, but was extended until June 30 2013 due to the Museum’s closure for two months as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
The Autism Speaks Community Service Grant also supported a broader Intrepid Museum initiative to be more accessible to diverse audiences, serving as a model for Museum access programs. Through new relationships with families participating in the Intrepid Museum’s Parent Advisory Council and Early Morning Opening project, Museum educators cultivated new relationships with organizations and with schools, enabling staff to greatly expand their offerings to school and community groups, including two-part programs for students with autism in school groups.
As a result of the Autism Speaks’ support, the Intrepid Museum developed and launched an on-going program for children within the autism spectrum and their families. In continuing one of the goals of the program, the Museum and its staff is committed to advocacy for the community and to sharing best practices with other institutions.