ArtAbility 2014—Evaluating the Program's Overall Impact on Participants with ASD and Teen Mentors

The purpose of this report was to evaluating the overall impact of the 2014 ArtAbility program on participants with ASD and teen mentors. The ArtAbility program represents a collaboration among the Glen Echo Park Partnership, Imagination Stage, Ivymount School and Programs, and the Puppet Company; and was made possible by a TeamUp grant from the Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation. In summary, outcomes for the ArtAbility program were very positive. Observational data, while Ivymount: In House Program and Evaluation Reports, 2014 inconsistent across focus participants, nevertheless provided evidence that by the end of the program, focus participants engaged in higher levels of verbal interaction. These data did not, however, support the notion that focus participants engaged in higher levels of non-verbal interaction, or in higher levels of peer-directed verbal interaction by the end of the program. In terms of teaching artist surveys/interviews, it appeared that the program resulted in greater overall levels of self-advocacy, communication/interaction, and empathy. Although some focus participants demonstrated greater growth than others, these patterns of growth were for the most part born out across participants. Online parent surveys, designed to measure generalization of ArtAbility learning to home and community contexts indicated significant growth in students’ spontaneous artistic expression, and modest growth in a few key areas, namely: communication/interaction, self-confidence, flexibility and empathy. The parent focus group confirmed many of these findings. Finally, the teen mentor surveys indicated that mentors learned a lot about ASD and how to support individuals with autism as a result of their ArtAbility mentoring experiences. Overall satisfaction with the program was high, with almost all parents reporting being “very satisfied.” Mentors were also satisfied with the training they received.

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