New free tri-lingual guide prepares youngsters for first museum visit

The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs recently introduced its new “Going to the Museum” free tri-lingual guide to preparing new visitors for a museum- going experience.

Going to the museum for the first time can be an exciting adventure for children, but for some, it also can be overwhelming. To help make museum going a more inclusive and enjoyable experience for everyone, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs created this very special pre-visit guide as part of its “All Kids Included” initiative.

Depicted in comic book style with easyto- understand language and accompanied by delightful “anime-like” illustrations of friendly animals,“Going to the Museum” explains what to expect when visiting a museum such as an art, history, science or children’s museum.

The story highlights key events and situations that visitors are likely to encounter along the way, such as unfamiliar people, waiting in line, darkened spaces, and unexpected or sometimes loud sounds. The guide also includes an introduction with brief instructions as to how readers can personalize the story with additional dialogue and descriptions in order to create their own version of “Going to the Museum.”

Designed as a companion to “Going to the Show,” the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs’ new “Going to the Museum” guide is a free trilingual online resource, printed guide, and classroom poster available in English/Spanish or English/Creole, which uses the principals of Universal Design to teach children with and without disabilities what to expect when visiting a museum.

Initiating the use of “Going to the Museum” specifically to assist children with Sensory Processing Disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is based on current best practices which utilize Social Stories ( social-stories) and visual/picture schedules to assist children with autism. Social Stories give a simple description of a typical experience written from the individual’s perspective, and are commonly used to teach children and individuals with autism social skills for everyday situations.

By rehearsing the story ahead of time with an adult, the child can use the story to help guide his or her behavior when the situation occurs. Picture schedules utilize visual images presented in sequential order to help prepare a child in a step-by-step manner for what to expect in a given situation.

To request free printed copies or classroom posters of “Going to the Museum” or “Going to the Show,” call the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs at 305-375-4634.

To view “Going to the Museum” or “Going to the Show” online, visit the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs website at <www.miamidadearts. org> and click on the “Going to the Museum” or“Going to the Show” icon.

“Going to the Museum” and “Going to the Show” were developed by the Miami- Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs as part of its “All Kids Included — Accessible Arts Experiences for Kids” (AKI) program. AKI’s mission is to increase the number of quality arts experiences accessible to children with disabilities and their families, and to promote the benefit and importance of inclusionary arts and cultural programs both in school settings and the community.AKI creates ADA/Accessible arts experiences for children with and without disabilities, so that all children have the opportunity to participate fully in the arts.

AKI is an initiative of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, and in part through grant funding provided by The Children’s Trust. The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County by making strategic investments in their future.

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