Partnerships as Pathways to Accessibility

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Abstract

This manuscript describes a collaboration between art museum educators and occupational therapists to create and evaluate programming for children with autism spectrum disorder and their families. The sensory-friendly program they collaboratively constructed included free access for pre-registered families, pre-visit materials, multi-sensory stations, and choice-based adapted art-making activities. Individuals with autism and their families were involved in the program development and refinement process through their ongoing role on a program advisory board that met yearly. Program evaluation data, taken over a three-year period, indicated that all families surveyed valued the programming that was developed. Qualitative thematic analysis indicated that families most valued the welcoming and inclusive attitudes of the staff and volunteers along with the opportunity to be around other families facing similar challenges with participating in community settings. Partnerships, such as the one described here, can create pathways to increase the accessibility of museum experiences for children with autism and their families.