Acting classes help children with autism - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Acting classes help children with autism

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An acting class in Atlanta isn't trying to prep the stars of tomorrow, it's trying to help students with autism cope with today.

Aaron and his mom, Judith Breitkopf arrive for class.

"We have a bunch of scene work that we're doing," says Jarrell Anderson, an acting coach at the Green Room Actor's Lounge.  

But in this class you won't see any pencils or paper.

Aaron is one of twelve acting students with autism at the Green Room Actor's Lounge in Atlanta.

"It's a program that uses acting and peer modeling and things of that nature to teach basic social skills and the appropriate social interactions that you really need to just survive in this world," says Shannon Nash. 

Shannon Nash knows all to well the importance of making sure children with autism have what they need to succeed. Her son Jason is also autistic.

When she moved to Atlanta a few years ago, she couldn't find an acting program tailored to teaching children with autism social skills, so she formed a partnership with 'Actors with Autism,' a California based organization.

Aaron's mom says he was bitten by the acting bug early, and she appreciates that the classes teach him the basics.

"Skills like eye contact... Accepting criticism," she says. "Accepting consequences," adds Aaron. 

"Accepting consequences. What else have you learned?" says Mrs. Breitkopf.

"Things that can hurt people's feelings," says Aaron. 

His acting coach sees first hand how the classes have affected all of the students.

"The program is a great tool to bring them out of their shell," says Jerrell Anderson. "A lot of the kids when we first started, they were hesitant to become something that wasn't themselves."

 "This stage is their magic box and they can be anything they want to be."

Created out of need, parents feel these acting classes provide an environment that the children can gain confidence and so much more.

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