Roger Ideishi is the Director of Occupational Therapy at Temple University in Philadelphia. He has worked to provide community access and opportunities for children with diverse sensory and cognitive abilities. Roger has worked with such arts organizations as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Philadelphia Ballet Company and The Philadelphia Orchestra to help them build meaningful learning experiences for special needs children and their families.
In many art performance experiences, such as the theater, the ballet, or a classical concert, there is an implicit expectation that audiences are supposed to remain silent and only express their appreciation through applause at appropriate moments. But for folks with sensory and cognitive challenges, such as Autism, it can be difficult to interpret the complex social cues in an artistic environment, and as a result, they can feel shunned, isolated, and disconnected from these communal experiences. Thanks to Roger Ideishi’s work, more and more arts organizations are finding ways to welcome special needs audiences and experience the power of the arts to connect all members of society in meaningful ways.