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Bridgeport, CT: Art program aimed at helping autistic students

Nov 12, 2022, CT Post: New Bridgeport arts program aims to boost skills for students with special needs

Putting pen to paper may seem like a simple task for most people.

But for some children growing up with developmental disabilities, everyday tasks such as drawing — or even grasping a paintbrush — can feel like an insurmountable challenge.

That's why Bridgeport Public Schools is piloting a new arts program this fall specifically designed to help boost fine motor skills for students with disabilities, including those with autism and other conditions. … The program is being piloted for students at A.B. Skane School and for some students at Barnum School. Altogether, about 300 students are receiving the new arts-focused lessons.

On Thursday, the district held the first of two planned adaptive arts shows at Barnum highlighting the artwork created by students in the program. The second event is planned for the spring.

In addition to strengthening fine motor skills, the program is also aimed at improving speech and language skills for students with special needs, according to Tracy Taft, a special education teacher who was tapped to lead the new arts program. …

The first year of the arts program is paid for through federal and state funds that were directed to the district during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the district may have funding for a second year, Henry said she is now seeking outside funding to ensure the program can continue.

To convince outside groups to provide funding, Henry and Taft are collecting data measuring the impact the lessons are having on students. Though it is too early to fully analyze the data, Henry said she has already seen encouraging results. ….

Bridgeport Board of Education member Bobbi Brown sits with Skane School pre-k student Payton Payen and Barnum School first-grader Janelle Martinez as the interact at a sensory station filled with colorful beads during an adaptive arts art show and open house held at the Barnum School, in Bridgeport, Conn. Nov. 10, 2022.Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media

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