morgan autism center
A Partner in Possibilities
Morgan Autism Center, founded in 1969, serves 65 school age children whose cognitive and social challenges make it difficult for them to benefit from a public school setting. Children with autism have difficulty communicating, socializing and narrow, focused interests that can preoccupy them throughout their entire lives. “Although they may explore a particular subject or activity exhaustively, they may not want to branch out because their ‘personal theme’ is what makes them happy,” explains Jennifer Sullivan, Morgan’s Executive Director. The Center also offers an adult program focusing on vocational independent living skills and continued educational enrichment.
At Morgan Autism Center (MAC) each student’s learning experience is individually tailored and designed to reach quantitative as well as qualitative life goals. Key staff members have been part of the Center for over 20 years, which has allowed them to build a community and refine many practices that are now recognized as best in their field.
Art is prevalent at the Center “because with art, lack of communication or being unable to talk is irrelevant. The students express themselves in the things they create.” However, MAC’s instructors are not arts specialists, so Jennifer was delighted to have the Center participate in CSMA’s Artistic Intelligence program last year. “CSMA has the art and music facilities and staff capabilities that we lack,” says Jennifer. “The school is very accessible. Everything is all set up. And to be welcomed in a community setting is huge!”
Last year, four Morgan Autism Center students took specialized art and marimba classes at CSMA. “It was a wonderful collaborative effort,” Jennifer remembers. CSMA’s instructors worked with students to encourage them to participate and realize feelings of success and accomplishment. “They, in turn, were willing and happy to be there. The teacher makes all of the difference in the world.”
This year, with nonprofit funding down, Jennifer did not think that any MAC students could come to CSMA. However, this all changed when CSMA obtained a foundation grant that doubled both the size and duration of the Artistic Intelligence program. Now, 16 Morgan students are attending for 16 weeks, and “that’s a really big deal!”
“For students to be able to express themselves and integrate as much as possible into a community setting is critical for them to be successful,” Jennifer concludes. “This is a very great opportunity to be able to do that.”