Little Friends: the next steps with a new company


Over the past few years at Little Friends we have been involved in using improvisation as a tool to help our students develop social communication skills. We did it in different ways.

The first involved two well-known jazz musicians, Janice Borla and Jack Mouse, who donated their time and energy to our music program. We have organized sessions where children who have been hesitant to communicate will fully participate in improvised jazz music. After observing this repeatedly, it is like watching a flower bloom before your eyes. The expressions come from a place inside the child that we haven’t seen before, and it’s amazing to see!

The second way we have used improvisation has been through workshops involving both teenagers and adults where the people we serve can practice improvisation through different exercises. Directed by John Wightkin, a graduate of second city in Chicago, we strive to help those involved engage in expressing their emotions and learning social skills in the process.

Our premise for what we do is that with improvisation, nothing you do is wrong. What we have since seen is that we see improvements in an individual’s ability to express and interpret their emotions. Social abilities like staying focused and being able to take turns when the time is right are great things to accomplish. Overall, we see a development in self-confidence, which matters in many ways.

We have seen such acceptance of the use of improvisation and the resulting success that I am pleased to share that effective January 24, 2022, John Wightkin will join the Center for Autism as Head of Community Initiatives. strategic learning.

We believe so much in what we see that we want to bring this program to market and help other schools and businesses if they are interested. I can talk about the impact that using this program has had on our Staff in terms of personal development and see for yourself the positive impact this has had on our students and our team. I encourage others to look into this as a team building and development opportunity. John has incredible skills and a passion for helping others.

We will share more information about this new initiative as we move forward. It will be fun to let others know how we are progressing in the times to come!


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