Founder and Executive Director
Autism Improvised, Inc., is inspired by her Aspergian grandson who struggles with social communication and friendships, yet his happy and imaginative personality needed a creative outlet. Though she was not familiar with theatre, she suspected this art would benefit her grandson. She discovered improvisational acting and was excited to discover how improv seemed to fit perfectly as a mode to address social challenges and inflexible, rigid thought patterns of autism. There were no programs available at the time that matched Sandy's vision, so this determined grandmother developed the concept, found a talented instructor, and launched Shenanigans in 2009. As her grandson grew into young adulthood, Sandy recognized his changing needs and additionally developed Code Breakers and Bright Paths, transition programs that address real-life challenges for young adults as they begin their lives as potentially productive and fulfilled members of the greater community.
Teacher, Program Director
Jason performed his first play when he was in 1st grade & understands how theatre can positively affect a child’s life. He trained in improvisational skills at Whole World Theatre in the '90s,and sees the medium as a perfect way to introduce kids of all backgrounds to the stage. Jason, an autism daddy himself, is certified in DIR/Floortime therapy and UCLA's PEERS social skills intervention, which strongly influence his approach to teaching. Jason, as Lead Programs Director, is instrumental in developing our Code Breakers program for young folks in transition to the adult world, including a partnership with Georgia Tech's Excel post-secondary program. Jason's classes are filled with energy and his personal sensitivity to the needs of autism.
Alex feels deeply privileged for the opportunity to teach with Autism Improvised. He is proud to say he is learning as much from his students as they are learning from him. Alex trained in theatre at the Interlochen Arts Academy and holds a BFA in Acting at the University of Southern California. He trained in long form improv at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York, before relocating to Atlanta, GA where he joined the Marshall Berch Group of PalmerHouse Properties as a Licensed Realtor®.
JJ is passionate about improv and the connections he sees in the "rules" of improv and everyday life, particularly improv's emphasis on listening and collaborating. He trained in improv and sketch comedy at the Village Theater where he is currently a company member. He has a BA in sociology and international studies from Bridgewater College, and traveled abroad to teach theatre in southern India. From childhood, JJ's life has been greatly enriched by the performing arts, and he is fulfilled by helping others find joy in performing.
Amanda Rountree has been performing improvisational theatre professionally since 1992, teaching since 1998, and directing since 2002. In 2014, she moved to the Atlanta area from Chicago, where she was a faculty member with the Second City Training Center. Previously, she was a performer and instructor with Unexpected Productions and a performer and Co-Artistic Director of Playback Theater Northwest in Seattle. In summer camps, after school programs, and as an artist in residence, she has taught youth and teen students improv, scripted theatre, sketch comedy writing/acting, Shakespeare, play adaptation/development, and more. She is delighted to now teach with Autism Improvised. To learn more about Amanda, please visit amandarountree.com.
Jessica Kasten is a seasoned transition services professional with 12 years of ID (Intellectual Disabilities) classroom teaching experience and 14 years in transition services. She specializes in helping families navigate the post-secondary process which can be very overwhelming. A strong believer in inclusion, Jessica regularly supports teachers and families with ways for students to be included in all areas of their school and vocational careers. In the past, she worked with Autism Improvised and started the first Bright Paths girls' group which was a success for several years. Due to the pandemic, Bright Paths took a short hiatus and is ready to get back in full swing this Spring. Jessica is very excited to be a part of the AI team again and to support girls with their social skills and problem-solving techniques.
In 2001-2002, Jessica received the Teacher of The Year award at her High School.
Outside of work, Jessica enjoys hiking, gardening, dinners out with friends, travel, spending time with her family and supporting animal rescues. She loves dogs and is a huge advocate for bully breeds who are typically misunderstood.