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UNI professor begins program working with youth on the Autism Spectrum

September 30, 2011

Gretta Berghammer, UNI professor in Drama Education and Theatre, 319-273-2149,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- This fall the Sturgis Youth Theatre (SYT) will launch its Spectrum Theatre program designed for young people on and off the autism spectrum. All sessions will be taught by Gretta Berghammer, professor of drama education and youth theatre at the University of Northern Iowa. Sessions will begin in October, with the first session on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 1 to 2:30  p.m., for students ages 9 to 12.

Other sessions include Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10 to 11:15 a.m., for students ages 6 to 8; Sunday, Nov. 6, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., for students ages 9 to 12; and Sunday, Nov. 13, from 1 to 2:15 p.m., for students ages 6 to 8.

Berghammer initially became interested in working with youth with autism when she was invited to see spectrum-specific classes at the Omaha Children's Theatre. She recently completed a five-month professional development project during which she experimented with, and explored ways of using, drama techniques in support of a variety of spectrum behaviors.  The Spectrum Theatre program is especially designed to provide drama experiences that best support the development of pretend play, social interaction and non-verbal communication.

The Spectrum Theatre program is funded in part by a grant from the Guernsey Foundation. To register, visit, and look for the SYT brochure.

For additional information, contact Berghammer, at 319-273-2149 or