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Tamara H. Sone • Special to La Quinta Sun • September 2, 2010

The La Quinta High School Theatre was filled with dancing and singing monkeys, elephants, tigers and other wild animals last weekend.

The Coachella Valley Autism Society, the local chapter of the Autism Society of America, performed Disney’s “The Jungle Book” Saturday and Sunday.

The musical theater class was formed in February as part of the society’s social recreation program, said Carolyn Russom, resource coordinator,

“We decided to put on a show, so we wrote a grant and were lucky enough to be awarded that grant by the Irene W. and Guy L. Anderson Children’s Foundation,” Russom said.

 Practices for the performance started in mid-June with 22 kids learning how to sing and dance in front of a live audience. The performers ranged in age from 4 to 17.

Cliff Plummer, who teaches musical theater, designed and directed the performance.

“I chose ‘The Jungle Book’ because all of the music is upbeat, and the energy level is up all of the time. The kids seem to be able to stay focused when there is a lot of energy involved,” Plummer said.

Children with autism tend to lack or have a delay of spoken language, show little or no eye contact and use repetitive words and/or mannerisms such as hand flapping or twirling objects.

“This program has been a good outlet for the kids. We have one boy that is nonverbal, but he will sing. He won’t speak, but he will sing words,” Plummer said.

Read in Full:  http://www.mydesert.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20109010336



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