The Services Cliff and ArtStream

After the school bus stops coming, is it really as scary as we fear?

It would be, if it weren’t for ArtStream.

When young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) - including autism – complete school, they leave behind years of structured activities, well-defined goals, high expectations, and support by teams of dedicated teachers. With no comparable group to pick up the baton to help them along post-school, it falls primarily to parents to put in place the necessary supports for their child's future. There are no programs now to which their children are entitled, as with school, only services for which they are eligible - depending on funds. This is commonly referred to as the services cliff. Young adults can regress, become less able, more dependent, and more socially isolated in the years following the end of their formal schooling.

The picture can be bleak. In fact, research shows that 34% of children are reported by parents to have 1 or more close friend before graduating HS. After graduation this reduces to 8.1%.


This is where ArtStream comes in.

ArtStream provides a path away from the cliff, offering instead a springboard for post-school engagement, friendships, and independence. ArtStream’s structured activities, well-defined goals, and high expectations for participants in classes, workshops, and performing companies make it possible for these young adults' continued growth and lifelong learning. And these programs are fun!

ArtStream’s Teaching Artists inspire all participants, nourishing their imagination, creativity, and strengths, and helping them develop talents and capabilities they sometimes never knew they had. After a lifetime of being told what they cannot do, ArtStreamers are given opportunities and encouragement to demonstrate what they can do. ArtStream’s magic transforms participants, whose self-esteem, poise, and confidence in class or onstage extend into their daily lives, affirming their presence in the world.

NOTE: 88% of ArtStreamers are adults aged 18-76 (12% are children and teens age 10-17)

What Our Actors are Saying

“I always wanted to perform. I got to be in a small theatre group in my neighborhood and to perform in school musicals. After I finished high school we looked and looked for places to perform. I tried out for community theatres, but they didn’t accept me. I am so glad we found ArtStream.  I am proud of being an ArtStream performer. I love being on stage. It makes me super-excited, happy and proud. I feel more confident wherever I go.”  

–ArtStream Actor, age 22, four years with ArtStream

Two people standing together and smiling

“When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be onstage.  My dad even built me a little three-step stage.  But in middle and high school I was not allowed to be in chorus or drama.  But then I got out of high school and went to an ArtStream performance and I saw a place where I could perform on stage. Since then I have been in nine shows. Among the characters I have played are a witch, a queen, a cat and a country singer.  We develop the characters, the script, and the music.  When I get the final script, I practice the entire play every day.  By opening night, I know all of the lines to the play. I have met a lot of new people. Come and see a show.”

–ArtStream Actor, age 34, nine years with ArtStream