Vancouver Symphony Orchestra launches program for kids with autism
The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is breaking barriers for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Its school of music is launching a new class, tailored to those with sensory issues.
"In the fall we will have our first no barriers program specifically geared towards children on the Autism Spectrum," said Angela Elster, Vice President of the VSO School of Music.
The school says it's a chance for kids to play and listen to instruments in a judgement-free environment.
"We like to set up dance floors and have fidget toys and to really let the audience know that it's totally okay to make some noise, to dance," Adrian Fung of the Afiara Quartet told CTV News.
He says the classes silence the stigma that comes with a typical classical music performance.
"A lot of families feel that they can't bring young children or those on the Spectrum to these concerts because of the disruption. Here, we welcome that disruption."
"What some people say is a bad behaviour is just a child being in an overstimulated mode. They're uncomfortable and they might be in pain," explained Kathryn Schoquer of the Pacific Autism Foundation.
The new, weekly classes are designed to promote inclusivity, something the Samwell family has struggled with since their son Joshua was diagnosed three years ago.
"I feel like somebody just threw me into the deep end of the ocean and said there you go," said mother Zelda Samwell.
Her five-year-old son has since made major strides since discovering music therapy.
"He's like a different child around music. He's just much more connected. He does eye contact. It's just amazing."
She's grateful to have finally found something that brings her whole family together.
"It triggers the whole mind and calms them down. Honestly, it's something to see. They become new, different people."
Classes coincide with the regular school year with tuition of $190. Approximately 5,000 school-aged children have been diagnosed with Autism in British Columbia.