Charity Spotlight – ArtStream, Helping Improve Communication Skills Through Art

Charity Spotlight – ArtStream, Helping Improve Communication Skills Through Art

ArtStream’s mission reflects a desire to develop individuals social skills through art and theater. Based in Chevy Chase, Maryland ArtStream has been using performing arts to empower people with social disabilities since 2005. Given the program has shown success, and the uniqueness of the approach, we have chosen ArtStream to be part of our Spotlight program.

A short documentary video produced by Docs In Progress’ Documenting The Arts Workshop see more at

Helping people improve social skills is just great for everyone

It is the mark of modern civilization to collectively raise people to their highest potential. Happiness can be contagious, as can selflessness. When a society has the resources to help those in need, we all benefit from living in a wholesome environment. Pull someone out of poverty, they become productive, they may even reciprocate by helping someone else. Given enough time we can get through any difficulty together, as a whole.

There is an economic advantage along with the social advantage that comes with helping others.

The economic costs of Autism Spectrum Disabilities are estimated to be 268 billion. Costs associated with ASD are expected to grow at a rate that will exceed the costs of diabetes and ADHD combined. (Leigh, 2015). Programs like ArtStream provide a solution that reduces the economic stress ASD has on society by helping people better live a more fulfilled life.

Studies have shown drama therapy to have a positive result for people with spectrum disorders. Indeed anyone who struggles with social situations would benefit from the theater. (Leary, 2013) This includes anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, anything that might affect a persons comfort level when interacting with others.

ArtStream uses theatre as a tool, with workshops and activities that bring people together with similar social difficulties. Acting out a social scenario is like practice for the real thing, and just like practicing anything, people get better with time.

artstream social impact

It is beneficial to bring people together who have similar struggles.

Anytime you can relate a personal challenge to others, be it social, economic or otherwise, there is a comfort knowing you are not alone. This can have a positive impact on confidence and personal image. In the case of spectrum disorders, it has shown to increase a person’s independence and overall happiness.

Being part of a group, being understood, understanding others, and being able to give and receive help strengthens the sense of belonging and enhances emotional well-being. (Ven, 2003)

Here is a little more about the programs ArtStream offers:

Original theatrical events

ArtStream produces original plays in partnership with six different theatre companies. Over 100 actors and actresses with some kind of intellectual disability come together as part of the program. With the help of volunteer theater staff, they brainstorm and develop full-length production events. By working together to devise a plot, character profiles, and choreography participants learn and strengthen social skills.

These guys and girls put on original shows with audiences of over 2000 people – a considerable accomplishment that proves capability to everyone watching and to themselves.

Classes and workshops

ArtStream also has several classes and workshops that provide group benefits to people with intellectual disabilities. These classes range quite a bit, but center around performing arts. The unique ability to help people practice social situations in a safe, almost role-play environment makes this a valuable part of the ArtStream program for over 900 people.

Get Involved –

Help ArtStream by supporting their mission to improve communication skills, confidence, and general social wellbeing through theatre and the arts.

Here is a link to their donation page:

Charity Spotlight - ArtStream, Helping Improve Communication Skills Through Art 2

What’s this blog all about?

The point of this blog is to improve and establish a portfolio of writing for me, the author. Blogging is a new venture and hobby that I would like to develop. What better way to figure the ins and outs of running a blog than to help nonprofits. We offer support by researching common questions about running a charity and by highlighting established organizations.

Please note that we are NOT affiliated with the nonprofits we profile and we encourage you to do your own research.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any suggestions!


Leigh, J.P. & Du, J. J Autism Dev Disord (2015) 45: 4135.

O’Leary, Katie, “The Effects of Drama Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders” (2013). Honors Projects. 1.

Psychosocial Group Interventions in Diabetes Care

Nicole van der Ven

Diabetes Spectrum Apr 2003, 16 (2) 88-95; DOI: 10.2337/diaspect.16.2.88

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