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Archive for January, 2012

The Acting Academy for Autism

Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory


The Acting Academy for Autism

Scene Study *Monologues *Movement

How to Audition *Voice *Theatre History *Master Classes *Playwriting

(805) 427-5314

Classes held at

43 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd. (next to Big 5)

at Moorpark Road In The Discovery Center

The Acting Academy for Autism is a serious theatre program for the young person with high functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.  We do not refer to autism as a disorder. We are not therapists or psychologists or celebrities.  We are theatre teachers who have been working with young people for decades.  Along the way, we have encountered children with autism who came alive on stage.

This course has been designed by a group of wonderful minds, including teachers who are credentialed in special needs, adults who have autism, student teachers, and theatre training professionals.  We created the Acting Academy for Autism so we could honor the sensibilities of young people with autism and provide a safe and fun atmosphere in which they can study theatre.  We do not make videos or movies.  We make theatre!


We start with theatre and work our way from there.

Acting classes break down social-emotional skills into separate and smaller skills upon which they can build.  If a person can learn to recognize and then portray real social-emotional cues they can begin to understand what others are thinking and feeling.  Then they can move on to what others MEAN, or INTEND.  Finally, they can have real social exchanges that help them to work, make friends and have relationships.

Yes, students will gain some greater abilities to overcome social challenges.  Yes, young people will gain self-confidence, learn to trust and learn to allow others to trust them.  This is no different from any other good acting class.

During the final class, the students will showcase their work: scenes, monologues and theatre history, along with original pieces that they write. Material comes from standard, published plays from 400 BC to the twenty-first century.  The Acting Academy for Autism is an activity of Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory, offering year-round classes in all aspects of theatre arts.

In order to create a successful program, classes are capped at ten students, with three teachers per class.  Unfortunately, we are unable to provide individual teaching assistants and students are expected to respect the rules of the Academy. Each student will attend an interview before enrolling.

The SPRING SESSION on Mondays at 4:00 – 5:30 (January 30 – April 23) is already full.
The Spring Session is a twelve week course.  There will be no classes on February 20.  FEE:  $350

Due to high demand there could be an ADDITIONAL SPRING SESSION on Tuesdays between 5:00 – 6:30 and will begin in a few weeks.  If you are interested contact Gold Coast Theatre as soon as possible to register your interest.  Class size is limited to 10 students.






Gold Coast is also seeking high school students interested in working in the classroom as peer mentors and aides.

Founding Artistic Director Stephanie Wilson has taught over 500 young people since 1980. Also a playwright, her original musicals have been performed at the Taper in Los Angeles and Covent Gardens in London and her plays for children have been seen by tens of thousands of schoolchildren. Stephanie has produced and directed for The Olympic Arts Festival, Cabrillo Music Theatre and Young Artists Ensemble.

Stephanie volunteers by serving on the Cultural Affairs Commission for the City of Thousand Oaks and is past chair of the California Alliance for Arts Education, the Ventura County Arts Council and the Thousand Oaks Arts Commission. She currently serves on the boards for the Santa Barbara Music & Arts Conservatory and the Alzheimer’s Assistance Fund.

Billy Parish is a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, The National Theater Institute, the Moscow Art Theater, The Ballroom Dance Academy, and holds a bachelor in Theater from Occidental College. He holds an advanced certificate with high recommendation from the British Society of Fight Directors and is a certified Ballroom teacher through the Dance Vision International Dance Association. He has taught students of all ages. Most recently he worked with Dancing with the Stars dancer Tony Dovolani to bring ballroom to elementary schools, and with the Ballroom Dance Channel as lead producer of their Superstars of Ballroom Dance Camp.

Elizabeth Angelini received her degree from Pitzer College and completed Levels I and II Credential as an Education Specialist in Mild/Moderate Disabilities.  Elizabeth has been teaching since 2003 at The Help Group in Sherman Oaks, Tulsa Street Elementary School in Granada Hills, Passageway School in Newbury Park and The Dubnoff Center in North Hollywood.  Elizabeth was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when she was 12 years old, and found studying theatre to be an excellent creative outlet.


Since 1994 Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory has been giving young people a solid foundation in the basics of theatre.  These classes are for the student who values creative expression and supports the powerful idea of process over performance.  Classes focus on training, tools and a classic approach to true character development.  Students are urged to act, not perform.  Here, theatre is a group activity, a team sport, a publicly shared journey into worthwhile material and into the self.

In 1995, The Conservatory staged “OUR TOWN”: the very first production with young actors at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.  Since then, The Conservatory has staged dozens of productions for both schoolchildren and family audiences at the Civic Arts Plaza, and countless others in venues throughout Ventura County. Over 500 young people have trained at The Conservatory.

Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory is a Not- for-profit organization and a division of Gold Coast Performing Arts Association tax ID 77-0031586

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G’Day LA: Tourism Soars With Help From Australia | NBC Los Angeles

LA tourism numbers have been released, and once again Australia has hopped in as the front-runner in generating the most overseas visitors in Los Angeles.

In 2011, approximately 26.9 million people visited Los Angeles, surpassing the 2007 record of 25.9 million visitors, according to Carol Martinez, vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. That’s an increase of 4.2 percent from 2010.

“This has occurred for the past couple of years, but there are a number of reasons that make Los Angeles is an attractive destination for Australians. One, being the boost in business linkages,” said the Australian Consul-General Chris De Cure.

via G’Day LA: Tourism Soars With Help From Australia | NBC Los Angeles.

Australia has been the front-runner in generating the most overseas visitors to Los Angeles for the past two years.   I’d have to agree with the writer that the increase would have a lot to do with the stronger Australian dollar.

When I moved to the US in late 2001 the Australian dollar bought just $0.50 US.  Today that same dollar will buy $1.04 US.

So I’d like to remind all my Aussie friends and family, especially those that have never visited.., that 2012 is the year for you to get on that Qantas jet and come to Los Angeles.

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Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

I stumbled across author Ellen Notbohm and her book “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” about a year ago.  As a parent of a child with Aspergers Syndrome I was amazed at the simplicity and accuracy of this list.

The Author first published her list in a magazine article like the one found at Autism Spectrum.

Here is a summary of the Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew:

1. I am first and foremost a child — a child with autism. I am not primarily “autistic.”
My autism is only one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person.

Sensory integration may be the most difficult aspect of autism to understand, but it is arguably the most critical.


2. My sensory perceptions are disordered.
This means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of everyday that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me.

Receptive and expressive language and vocabulary can be major challenges:

3. Please remember to distinguish between won’t (I choose not to) and can’t (I am not able to).

It isn’t that I don’t listen to instructions. It’s that I can’t understand you.

4. I am a concrete thinker. This means I interpret language very literally.
It’s very confusing for me when you say, “Hold your horses, cowboy!” when what you really mean is “Please stop running.”

5. Please be patient with my limited vocabulary.
It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when I don’t know the words to describe my feelings.

6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented.

Don’t let autism cause you to lose sight of the whole child. Self-esteem is crucial.

7. Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do.
Like any other human, I can’t learn in an environment where I’m constantly made to feel that I’m not good enough and that I need “fixing.”

8. Please help me with social interactions.
It may look like I don’t want to play with the other kids on the playground, but sometimes it’s just that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation.

9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns.
Meltdowns, blow-ups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you.

10. If you are a family member, please love me unconditionally.
Banish thoughts like, “If he would just……” and “Why can’t she…..” You did not fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn’t like being constantly reminded of it. I did not choose to have autism. But remember that it is happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you – I am worth it.

Whenever I find myself frustrated with my efforts to communicate or understand my son I pick up this book to gently remind myself what he needs.

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Our Vacation This Year – Disney World

I’m participating in the 2012 Blog Dare at Bloggy Moms.  One of the recent writing prompts was to write about a vacation we hope to take this year.

In an effort to be more positive, I can say that we ARE taking our vacation at Disney World this year.

I’m very grateful that my husband convinced me to become a Disney Vacation Club member four years ago on our last trip to Disney World.  This is similar to a timeshare in that we can stay at a Disney property using points.  Unlike a traditional timeshare we can choose when we go and which accommodation we stay in.  We are only restricted by availability and having enough points for the accommodation we want.  We have ten days booked at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in a 1 bedroom villa with a Savanna view.

We will be vacationing during the school year so we made the decision to tell the kids.  Their teachers need to agree to independent study so that they can go on the vacation.  The kids are super excited to be going to Disney World again and to be able to see the animals from our balcony.

Our accommodation includes a kitchen and laundry so we’ll be able to travel lightly…for us… I hope.  Check back in May for my rantings from the airport when my husband leaves me with our daughter who needs to go to the bathroom and all our luggage whilst he parks the car or returns the rental vehicle.

This will be our first major vacation since our son became gluten, dairy and casein free this time last year.  Because of this there is a little more planning but there appears to be no better place than Disney World to have a food allergy.  I’ve already been able to find many food options and the chefs at Disney World will help us find appropriate food for our son at our sit down meals.

My husband has already booked many of our sit down meals and we have our airline tickets and Disney transfers arranged.  Over the next few months we’ll purchase the park tickets and meal plans so that we can all relax during the vacation knowing that there won’t be any credit card surprises when we get home.

Where are you planning on vacationing this year?

Do you pay for your vacation before you go, or when you return?

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A Look Back at 2011

2011 was a busy year for me that found me trying to balance too much and ultimately neglecting my blog.

I am a mother of two children, including an 8 year old with Aspergers; a contract IT worker;  a Network Marketer and a wife who really enjoys having this blog as an outlet.

Tomorrow is my first day back in the office after 10 days at home with the kids during winter break so I’ll do my best to summarize our 2011.

My year in review:

In January we took the plunge and started our then 7 year old on a gluten and dairy free diet. It was something I had considered for a while due to his life long abdominal issues and a recommendation from a friend, Barrie Silberberg.  Barrie wrote The Autism & ADHD Diet Book and I would not have had the courage to make this step without her.   That being said going gluten and dairy free was not an easy task with a child who has sensory processing issues and an extremely limited diet.  I allowed the diet to take over my life for most of the year as I searched for foods that our son would eat and would meet his nutritional needs.

In May our little girl turned 6!!!

In June both children started summer vacation and I began juggling work and shifting children between am and pm camps.  To some it may sound a little indulgent but I struggled to find camps that didn’t include lots of food on a daily basis and our then 7 year old lacked the necessary coping skills to be in other camps for a whole day.  So I found appropriate morning and afternoon camps that were right for him and did what I needed to.

The kids had a wonderful summer learning soccer skills, swimming, acting, singing, building Legos and so much more.

Late August came too quickly as our little princess started 1st Grade and our son started 3rd Grade.  With the kids back in school I feel like we are just constantly on the run between school, therapy 4 times per week for Mstr 8, Cub scouts, Daisies, Ballet and Soccer.  Thankfully I’m married to a wonderful man who is happy to play Mr Mom after he finishes work each day.

In September our son turned 8!!

In October my husband and I celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary!!  We had hoped to take a cruise to Tahiti (our cancelled Honeymoon) or a trip to Hawaii but neither seemed feasible at the time…  I wasn’t ready to travel gluten and dairy free just yet and didn’t feel like I would be able to relax enough to enjoy the vacation.

In December we found out that our son is intolerant to 20 foods, which brings us a step closer to helping him heal and grow.  It also means I need to revamp his diet again as many of the “bad” foods were in his diet.  We also got to celebrate Christmas with our wonderful children and share precious moments with family both near and far (thanks to FaceTime).  My husband was fortunate enough to have a week at home with the kids leading up to Christmas and I got to spend a week with them between Christmas and New Years just hanging out.  A lovely change from our normally hectic life.

I’m looking forward to a more organized and calmer 2012.  How about you?

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a mom blog community

Social Media Goals 2012

a mom blog community

This year I’m participating in the Blog Dare 2012 hosted by BloggyMoms.com

Simply put, the Blog Dare 2012 is a year of writing prompts for bloggers.

I’m a day late for the first post, but better late than never.  So I’ll keep it short and sweet.

My Social Media Goals for 2012 are:

  • To post on a regular basis.
  • To increase reader interaction on this blog.
  • To increase my Twitter followers (currently 5835)
  • To post at least 1 video blog.
  • To comment on other blogs on a regular basis.

What are your Social Media Goals for 2012?

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