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Social Stories Spectrum Project Applications Are Open

The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) is looking for high-functioning verbal young adults who have autism to collaborate with several museums in Balboa Park on a new project to create “social stories.”

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What is the Social Stories Spectrum Project?
The Social Stories Spectrum Project is a meet-up project created by the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) to collaborate with high-functioning young adults with autism to co-create social stories that will prepare individuals with autism to visit museums in Balboa Park.

What is a social story?
A social story is a written, picture, or video guide to help individuals with autism understand the various social interactions, situations, behaviors, or skills that are expected at each museum.

Who can be a part of this project?
We are looking for high-functioning verbal young adults (18 to 25 years old) who have autism and who can participate in activities without the assistance of a parent or aid. This project was designed for you and your peers so our museum can learn about your needs and how museums can better service young adults with high-functioning autism.

What are some of the activities we will be doing?
The main activity is creating social stories through writing, photography, and video. Participants will work in teams to help museum staff create the social stories for other visitors with autism. Each museum in the park that is part of the project will then post their social stories on their website as a resource for other visitors to use.

Other group activities include meeting other high-functioning individuals with autism, working on social, communication, and life skills, learning to navigate Balboa Park, going to museums and gardens, enjoying snacks in the park, and going behind the scenes at museums.

Which museums will we visit?
All of the meet-ups will start at theNAT. Other museums we will visit include the Fleet Science Center, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Man, Japanese Friendship Garden, and the San Diego History Center.

When will these meet-ups be?
Meet-ups will occur the third week of each month from January through December 2017. Specific date and time to be determined.

Do I have to attend all of the meet-ups?
Yes, if at all possible. We will excuse individuals if they are sick or on vacation. But it’s very important to have maximum attendance and participation.

How many people will be attending the meet-ups?
There will be 10 young adults, 2-4 museum staff, and an occupational therapist who will assist with social and communication skills.

When is the application deadline?
Applications are due by 12 PM on Tuesday, November 29, 2016.

What is the application review process?
Applications will be reviewed by the Museum’s project team. We will also schedule a 15- to 30-minute phone or Skype conversation with each applicant so we can get to know each individual a little bit better. These will take place between November 30 and December 8.

When will I hear if I have been accepted into the project?
Participants will be notified by email by Wednesday, December 14, 2016.

What will I get by participating in the project?
By participating in this project, you will be recognized as a co-author on these written, visual, and digital social stories for museums in the park and will receive a copy for your own use. You will also have an opportunity to work on writing, photography, and video-production skills; team work; and communication and life skills. You will meet other young adults with autism and hopefully develop some friendships. You will be able to meet people who work in museums, go behind the scenes, learn about what each museum collects and why, and learn about different museum jobs and volunteer opportunities. You will also be given a family membership to theNAT.

The work you will be doing will also impact the museum community internationally. This type of collaborative project between high functioning young adults with autism and museums has never been done before. TheNAT staff will be writing about this project and sharing it with museums around the world. You will be helping to define how museums work with individuals with autism to make museums inclusive for all individuals with autism.

How to I apply?
If you are interested in applying to be part of this project, click here to complete an application.

Posted by Beth Redmond-Jones.

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