Improv for Alzheimer’s, dementia patients

Five of the six members of the Memory Ensemble were gathered in a nondescript conference room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, ready to begin their weekly improvisational acting workshop.

“Where’s Irv? We need Irv,” one said.“Oh, he’s always late,” said another. “He’s very dependable that way.”

At first glance, they could have been any group of energetic older Americans dipping their toes into amateur theater. But it was soon evident that this was not a social event: Ensemble members exhibited pronounced physical and verbal tics, abrupt lapses in conversation and other telltale signs of the cognitive disorders that characterize dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

A collaboration between the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and the Lookingglass Theater Company, the Memory Ensemble is what organizers believe is a first-of-its-kind program that seeks to improve the quality of life for people dealing with the early stages of memory loss.

The seven-week pilot session is designed to give newly diagnosed participants a “safe and supportive environment where they can challenge themselves but still feel secure,” said Christine Mary Dunford, an ensemble member at Lookingglass Theater.

via Chicago News Cooperative – Trying Improv as Therapy for Those With Memory Loss –

Artist helps Florida students with autism express themselves

NEW PORT RICHEY – Adam Schmiz had the oil pastels, the paper and the freedom to create whatever he wanted, but the artistic muse refused to kick in.

Artist Mindy S. Egert decided to give the 12-year-old a little coaxing and a pep talk.

“You know what you can do, Adam?” she said. “You can close your eyes and draw with your eyes closed. It doesn’t matter. Art is from you and it’s all wonderful in my opinion.

“Adam began to draw.

It was one more small victory in the autism/varying exceptionalities class at Seven Springs Middle School, where Egert is serving as an artist in residency and giving a creative boost to the nine students in teacher Kala Hamilton’s classroom.

About half the students are autistic and the others have other disabilities, Hamilton said.”It’s very hard for these kids to focus five minutes,” Hamilton said during a one-hour lesson with Egert this week. “It’s already been 11 minutes, and they are still very involved.

Egert’s visits to Hamilton’s classroom are made possible through the VSA Florida Artist in Residency Program, which is based at the University of South Florida’s College of Education.

via Artist helps disabled Pasco students express themselves.

Autistic kids sing, roar in ‘Jungle Book’ musical


The La Quinta High School Theatre was filled with dancing and singing monkeys, elephants, tigers and other wild animals last weekend.

The Coachella Valley Autism Society, the local chapter of the Autism Society of America, performed Disney’s “The Jungle Book” Saturday and Sunday.

The musical theater class was formed in February as part of the society’s social recreation program, said Carolyn Russom, resource coordinator,

via Autistic kids sing, roar in ‘Jungle Book’ musical | | The Desert Sun.

Art offers confidence to young people with autism

Creating art began as a hobby for Ari and his mother Cheryl Colton, but it’s become not only a means of self-expression for the autistic boy, but now also has the makings of a non-profit organization.

By offering workshops for teenagers and young adults diagnosed with autism, Ari-Art has become a place where artists with autism work on directed and independent projects in a variety of disciplines from jewellery making, to photography, to creating decorative bowls and spoons.

via CTV Montreal – Power of One: Art offers confidence to young people with autism – CTV News.

Boy wins Down syndrome photography contest

“Sun” by Rory Davies, 12, was the winning photo in My Perspective, a photography contest for people with Down syndrome held by the U.K.-based Down’s Syndrome Association.

Kernow Koi by Zoe Wilton, 39, took second place.

Angel Statue  by Charlie French,  18, won third place.

The photos and seven other winning photographs spent last week at London’s Strand Gallery. The exhibit will now travel across the UK and around the globe. All the winning photographers received a new Olympus camera.

Rory Davies was unable to attend the awards ceremony but sent a statement: ““Thank you, I like looking at the view through the camera. I like using the camera, I like the way it works like a machine for your eye. My photographs make me feel happy. Winning the prize makes me feel happy, I feel like a winner. We will have a party at home. love Rory.”

via My Perspective Exhibition – Down’s Syndrome Association – Help for people with Down’s Syndrome.

Maria y Yo – Documentary on life with an autistic child

via YouTube – tráiler MARIA Y YO.

Maria Y Yo (Maria and Me), is a Spanish documentary based on the illustrated book by award-winning illustrator Miguel Gallardin in which he tells the story of life with his 14-year-old autistic daughter.

Here’s a Washington Post interview with Gallardin. He talks about how his art changed as Maria’s autism emerged, and how his drawings are now a way to communicate with her.

Arts 4 Alzheimer’s draws relief for patients and caregivers

Even though the disease robs people of their memories and recognitions, there is also a secondary sufferer of Alzheimer’s. Caregivers provide day-to-day help for loved ones battling the disease, but have to stand by and take on the emotional pain, as well.

Providing relief for people with early-stage memory loss, and their caregivers, is the the Arts 4 Alzheimer’s program developed by Tania Becker, president of the board of the Spruill Center in Atlanta with the help of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Alzheimer’s Association.

via Arts 4 Alzheimer’s Draws Relief For Patients and Caregivers – Tonic.

Memories in Making art program for Alzheimer’s patients

Memories in the Making is an Alzheimer’s Association program that gets Alzheimer’s patients painting, often with remarkable results. Organizers say that Alzheimer’s patients often portray memories or feelings they’ve lost the ability to express. The Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association recently raised $190,000 at a fundraiser featuring the auction of Memories in the Making paintings, as the Denver Post reports here:

Sure, it would be nice to have something by Picasso or Van Gogh hanging on the living room wall. Problem is, an original is priced out of most everyone’s reach. Better, then, to make an investment that’s affordable, and in the end, much more meaningful.

That’s the story behind Memories in the Making. Hosted by the Colorado chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Memories is a sale of 70 paintings created by Denver-area residents with Alzheimer’s disease. The 20 works that a jury selects for live auction are matched with companion pieces done by such professional artists as Anne Aguirre, Peggy McGivern, Jill Soukup and Michelle Torrez; other professionals contribute decorated palettes, jewelry, fabric art andSeen Gallery View more pictures from social events around town in the exclusive “Seen” gallery.sculptures for silent auction.

The 15th edition of the sale raised $190,000 for the Colorado chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and was enjoyed by the crowd that filled the United Club Level at Invesco Field. Joanne Fisher is the event manager; Gwen Ippen serves as program coordinator.

via Alzheimer’s art sale raises $190,000 – The Denver Post.

Artist depicts faces of his father, living with Alzheimer’s

Jeff Huntington’s interest in Alzheimer’s isn’t idle curiosity. The artist’s father, depicted in “Plaques and Tangles” — a triptych from which the show takes its name — has suffered from the disease for 10 years. The three-canvas work depicts the 67-year-old in moods that are, by turns, frustrated, goofy and contemplative.

via Jeff Huntington depicts faces of his father, living with Alzheimer’s.

Exhibit features photos taken by autistic children

There are some wonderful photographs on exhibit in suburban Chicago — all taken by children with autism or other special needs.

A special photo exhibit featuring art created by autistic children is on display in Hinsdale.

The exhibit, Kids with Cameras, had the children capture the world the way they see it.

Jack Ebert, a suburban photographer and father of a son with autism, started a photography program for children with special needs in Hinsdale. He developed and framed each child’s photograph to display and sell at the third annual art show in his studio.

“It’s inspired them to be able to see things differently,” said Ebert.

via Exhibit features photos taken by autistic children |