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Culpeper, VA: Music school launches "sensory friendly program" for "neuro-divergent preschoolers"

An up-and-coming art and music initiative intends to inspire neuro-divergent preschoolers in the Culpeper area.

Local mom Brooke VanTyne is leading the creation of Sensory Friendly Discovery with support from Jewell Tone Music, where one of her five sons takes lessons.

The Culpeper Main Street music school is creating a cultural outreach nonprofit, Jewell Tone Center for the Arts, and VanTyne is a board member.

She approached John Jewell, owner of the music school with his wife, Carla, about the idea for a sensory program. VanTyne had a very personal reason—her almost 4-year-old son, Kenton, is autistic, non-verbal, and has sensory processing disorder. It was the inspiration for the program.

“When I was thrown into the world of neuro-diversity, I quickly realized our community was lacking in accommodations for those on the spectrum and sensory processing needs,” the local mom said. …

“What if we could bring together these parents and kiddos, not just for a class, but to learn and grow together for years to come,” she continued.

VanTyne said the program would be tailored to each child. Songs with sign language will be used for language and imitation. Art with accommodations to encourage fine motor skills and free of sensory overload is the goal.

“My hope for the program is that kiddos like mine can not only explore art and music with sensory needs being met amongst a group of peers but also grow and learn together for years to come.”…

Sensory Friendly Discovery will kick-off this spring, coinciding with the planned opening of the arts center and music school at its new location in Southgate Shopping Center. John Jewell confirmed they are moving from their Main Street location this April to a much larger space just south of downtown along Madison Road.

“We’re going to double the number of teaching rooms to 12 dedicated art rooms and a bring a room in the front for these classes,” he said of VanTyne’s program, which will be the center’s first.

“There will be a safe room for kids on the spectrum equipped, part of the fundraiser, with special chairs, to make them feel hugged and normalized, let them get away, calm down.”… Sensory Friendly Discovery is exactly the kind of outreach the center will offer, he said, stating they typically start students at age 6 or 7 for lessons….


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