Category: News

ASD Fitness Center





Physical activity is important for children with and without disabilities alike as it promotes a healthy lifestyle, but can benefit individuals with autism in unique ways.

New research and anecdotal evidence suggest that some alternative therapeutic choices that include sports, exercise, and other physical activities can be a useful adjunct to traditional behavioral interventions, leading to improvement in symptoms, behaviors, and quality of life for individuals with autism. For more information about the ASD Fitness Center in Orange, CT, click here.



Yale Center for British Art and Chapel Haven Create Public Art and Raise Autism Awareness

Blue birdhourse handing in tree in front of brick building

The Yale Center for British Art and Chapel Haven, a residential school and independent living facility for people with cognitive and social disabilities, hosted a program on Feb. 20 to build a public sculpture and raise awareness of autism spectrum disorders.

Exploring Artism participants helped to create an environmentally inviting bird sanctuary and site-specific sculpture at Chapel Haven, located at 1040 Whalley Ave. in New Haven. For more information, please click here and here.

two children kneeling and painting half pipes.
Exploring Artism participants prepping elements for the outdoor bird sanctuary.

Life-Size Game Board!

On Saturday, Nov. 19, families joined YCBA Education staff at Chapel Haven for 2015’s final Exploring Artism. The program begins again in February 2016.


There are many varieties of board games and participants made their own board game life-size. First, they named games that each had played before and together they created a new game with their very own rules, pieces, and u-shaped game board spanning the floor.

Picture of two drawings on square cardboard.
Drawing ideas for game pieces.

Together, participants designed the layout and rules for “their game.” It was difficult to stop playing at the end of the session because everyone was having so much fun.

The game in play.
The game in play.

The Yale Center for British Art and Chapel Haven wish everyone a happy new year. We can’t wait to get together again for Exploring Artism on Feb. 20, 2016 at Chapel Haven.

Trees à la Gustav Klimt

Participants sitting around a table.
Intro to the first Exploring Artism of the fall.

Sept. 19 welcomed family and friends back to Chapel Haven for the YCBA’s Exploring Artism program. The topic of this month’s lesson was Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt and his trees.

Boy standing and looking at Klimt painting of tree.
Participants looking at a painting of a tree made by Klimt.

Participants looked closely at a few different trees painted by Klimt then used the iPad app PlayART (for purchase here). Each participant was able to create their own digital Klimt “painting.”

Boy and mom using ipad while docent watches.
Using the PlayArt app on the ipad.

After composing Klimt compositions on the ipad, participants looked to their handout to inspire their own large, gold tree paintings.

Kids use foam brushes to paint gold trees.
Participants begin painting their trees.

After painting the tree trunk and branches, participants bedazzled their trees with gems, sequins, and foil shapes for their very own Klimt-inspired tree.

Girls share shapes to glue to their tree compositoin.
Girls sharing additions to bedazzle their tree.

Fun was had by all and we look forward to our next meeting on Saturday, Oct. 17.

All the Buildings… we made… so far…

Children sit around a table with cardboard shapes and paper
Children working with shapes found in buildings.

June’s Exploring Artism participants created their own buildings from assorted shapes along with making and printing their own collagraphs. Inspired by outlines and shapes of buildings drawn by James Gulliver Hancock on his website and in his book, All the Buildings in New York: That I’ve Drawn So Far, participants created their own buildings using cardboard, foam pieces, paper, and black or white ink.

Children gluing pieces to paper to make a collagraph plate.
Designing their building collagraph plate with shapes.

After designing their own building, participants glued down the pieces then inked and printed their collograph plates. Click Here for a fun tutorial about collagraphy shared by I. K. Tolbert on youtube.

Inking their collagraph plates
Inking their collagraph plates

After rolling ink over the entire collagraph plate, participants carefully printed their work. Some decided that their collagraph plate in itself was the finished work of art.

Child stamping ink onto his collagraph plate before printing.
Adding to his collagraph plate.

Fun was had by all as we created our own unique city. A giant THANK YOU goes out to our program volunteers, as well as Tina Menchetti and Chapel Haven for hosting our program.


Artism Explores Antarctica!

In our most recent Exploring Artism session at Chapel Haven, participants and their families explored chilly Antarctica through photographs of landscape and animals.

Iceberg coloring bookAs a warm-up, everyone colored the photo above. Then, in preparation for our final group composition, we placed two large sheets of deli paper against the wall. The top piece of paper was left white (for the snowy land) and everyone worked together to paint the lower piece of paper a watery blue (for the water).
|Tracing the Landscape
Looking at Animals

After our introductions and review of the schedule, we looked at THIS PowerPoint of Antarctic landscape and animals. We asked questions about what we saw in these images: What do we see in these images? What colors? What shapes? What animals? Describe what you see on the animal? 

Next, we decided to make some of our own animals to populate the glacial landscape we created at the beginning of our session. First, each participant selected the animal that they wanted to create. Here were our animal templates: Small Seal, Whale, Elephant Seal, and Penguin. In order to add a 3D aspect to our arctic scene, participants were asked to cut out two outlines of their animal, but only decorate one. Then, once participants finished decorating their animal, we began stapling the two cutouts together along the edges (with the decorated animal on the outside). Before the cutout was stapled all the way around, participants stuffed the animal with plastic garbage bags (or grocery bags) to give their creature a more lifelike appearance. Each participant was then asked to place their animal somewhere on the Antarctic landscape. The Water and Landscape
Stuffed Animals on the landscape

Wretches and Jabberrers

Wretches and Jabberers is a 2010 film about two men on the autism spectrum, Larry and Tracy, who set out on a global road trip to change attitudes about disabilities. Read the synopsis of the film HERE. Both Larry and Tracy have blogs that they contribute to. Find out more about these two amazing advocates below!

Larry Bissonnette’s Blog

Larry Bissonnette is an individual on the autism spectrum and an advocate and artist who lives in Milton, Vermont and has had his work exhibited regularly both locally and nationally. Larry is one of the featured artists of the GRACE (Grass Roots Art and Community Effort) project based in Hardwick, Vermont. His paintings are shown in various art museums and private collections. You might recognize Larry from the film Wretches and Jabberers, in which two men (Larry and Tracy) with autism set out on a worldwide road trip to change attitudes about disabilities. Find out more about Larry through his blog.

Tracy Thresher’s Blog

Tracy is an individual on the autism spectrum who began typing to communicate in 1990 and was one of the first individuals with autism at Washington County Mental Health Services (a community-based service provider) to be introduced to it. He has presented at local, statewide, and national workshops and conferences.  He has consulted with local schools, is a member of the Vermont Statewide Standing Committee and has worked for the Green Mountain Self-Advocates in Montpelier, Vermont. In Vermont, he mentors teenagers and adults. Most recently, Tracy has consulted at Syracuse University as a lead trainer. You might recognize Tracy from the film Wretches and Jabberers, in which two men (Larry and Tracy) with autism set out on a worldwide road trip to change attitudes about disabilities. Find out more about Tracy through his blog.

Van Gogh’s Flowers

Alex Painting with BercleeDuring our last Exploring Artism session in March, participants were asked to look at Vincent van Gogh’s depictions of flowers and then create their own van Gogh-inspired compositions.

We began our session by looking at (and coloring) this sunflower facts handout, which identifies the different parts of the flower and when it blooms. After introductions and review of the space and schedule, we delved into looking at some of van Gogh’s bright floral paintings.
Sunflowers (1888-1889), Vincent van Gogh, Philadelphia Museum Art Museum (find here)

Here is the slideshow of van Gogh’s sunflowers and irises. Participants were asked: What do you see in the painting? What colors? How many? How do you think he created these flowers? What do you like about this painting?

Next, using the iPad app PlayART (for purchase here), each participant was able to create their own digital van Gogh sunflower “painting.” Here are the step-by-step directions to using the PlayART app. Angus, Maya , and Parent Drawing


Angus PaintingHaving created compositions using the iPads, everyone then moved to the work tables to create their own flower composition using oil pastels and liquid watercolor paint.  With the oil pastels, each participant drew a vase, horizon line, and flowers (coloring the center and petals). Then, using the liquid watercolor paints, everyone painted over the entire drawing, paying particular attention to the different colors used for the table and background. Participants were encouraged to use just two or three colors, since too much mixing would lead to brown/gray colors. With the remaining time, tissue paper was made available to the participants to place throughout their composition to add texture, if desired.

After cleaning up, each participant had the opportunity to share and talk about their final product. Presenting Artwork
Ewan Presenting His Artwork

Exploring Artism: Henri Matisse

Last Saturday the Yale Center for British Art held its first Exploring Artism of the new year at the Chapel Haven location. The program focused on the paintings and style of Henri Matisse.

We began our session by talking about the different art supplies and shapes Matisse used in his artworks. HERE is the warm-up activity we used. After understanding the difference between geometric and organic shapes, we had the opportunity to make our own shapes with paper and markers.

As part of our warm-up, each participant was given a large cardboard rectangle and tasked with painting the background of their future Matisse-inspired composition. After each participant had painted their background, the artworks were left to dry as the group looked at different materials and shapes that Matisse used.

Using the iPads, participants were able to use an app created by the Museum of Modern Art called “Art Lab.” One of the activities in the Art Lab involves “cutting” shapes by tracing them with your finger, and then using those shapes to create a digital composition. HERE is the link to the MoMA Art Lab App.

Using the iPads
Next, we watched a short video of Matisse assembling one of his artworks. HERE is a link to the YouTube video.

Next, we looked at some examples of the cutouts that Matisse often made with his scissors and examples of some of the artwork he created with those shapes. Participants were asked to identify the shapes as geometric or organic. What colors were present? How many colors? How do you think the artist made this? The group concluded that Matisse was able to “paint” with scissors.



Each participant then returned to their cardboard painting to attach some geometric and organic cutouts to their composition. Each participant was given 5-10 different colored sheets of paper, a pair of scissors, templates of Matisse-like shapes to trace, and some pre-cut shapes for participants with difficulty tracing and cutting. Using glue sticks and paper, each participant created their very own Matisse inspired artwork!

Angus Presenting His Artwork

Scott Presenting his Artwork