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.
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. He has 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.
Becky has been teaching with Autism Improvised since 2016. She received her BA in Theatre and Communications from Kennesaw State University and had the great pleasure of performing and teaching with a variety of companies throughout the US before settling in Washington DC. While in DC she founded Wandering Souls, a company dedicated to touring free professional theatre to communities with little or no access to the arts. One particular show with Wandering Souls sparked her interest in exploring new ways theatre could be used "outside the box" particularly with children on the spectrum. Along the way she met Sandy and the work of Autism Improvised and was hooked!
Outside of Autism Improvised, Becky is a Nonprofit Marketing Consultant. She and her husband can often be found planning their next adventure, trying new recipes or just doting on their furbabies - Tony Stark and Douglas.
Val has years of experience with autism through her son, now a young adult, who is the inspiration for Shenanigans. Val is Shenanigans' administrative assistant, director's assistant, and occasional video editor and photographer. With her background in piano, violin, and visual arts, she has more recently lent her talents to the art of machinima (videos created using the graphics engine of electronic games), and has earned industry recognition of her works. She also has significant social media experience in creating and moderating a popular machinima forum.