Creatively Able in Rome

Creatively Able in Rome

I’m always inspired when I meet someone who is passionate about helping children with special needs, and Andrew Palermo is one of those people. Andrew developed a program he calls Creatively Able. This music-and-movement intervention was designed to engage children with autism in the musical theater arts by teaching them how to develop and tell a story using music and physical movements.  When I approached Andrew about studying his program, he was enthusiastic and eager to collaborate. In 2016, we partnered with a wonderful center in Orange County that serves children with Autism and their families: UCP-OC to conduct and complete two small preliminary studies; these studies were highlighted in the Orange County Register, and study results were submitted for publication within the last few weeks. 

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When I was invited by Dr. Caterina Pesce to give a talk about my research at the University of Rome "Foro Italico" in November of 2018, I decided to highlight the work I was doing with Andrew in my presentation. I was very grateful that he was willing to travel to Rome as well; over two days, we presented the research supporting this music-and-movement intervention for children with Autism, and Andrew gave a practical demonstration and instructor training workshop to Dr. Pesce’s students in the Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences. We had a wonderful visit and were very grateful to share this important work with our Italian colleagues.

Photos by Fabrizio Aversa

To extend the potential impact of this intervention, we are working with Dr. Gillian Hayes and her colleagues to develop and study a video-game home practice tool (DanceCraft) that would allow children who are enrolled in Creatively Able to practice at home between sessions. Our pilot research on this tool also has been submitted for publication. Click the button below to watch a video produced as an overview of our first preliminary study and the technological tools we hope to develop to support the intervention.

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