Story by Thom Callahan, The Akronist
Inside the Balch Street Community Center one cold, snowy Saturday morning, a group of children play a game called Flock of Seagulls.
Each one takes a turn breaking away to soar on their own and strike a pose, at which time everyone else mimics, sort of like playing Statue. Limbs splay across the worn wooden floor, bodies leap, crouch, stand on one leg, twist – the poses are as unique as the children portraying them.
“They say, ‘If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism,’” says Wendy Duke, emphasizing that no two people on the autism spectrum are alike.
Duke and fellow instructor Laura Valendza are the founders of the Center for Applied Drama and Autism (CADA), which for the past three years has been helping high-functioning autistic students navigate their world. Before moving to the Balch Street Theatre, classes were held at the Weathervane Playhouse.