Throughout my nine-year career as a special education teacher and assistant principal, I experienced children with special needs demonstrating aggressive and challenging behaviors including hitting, biting, punching, throwing furniture, damaging property, using profanity, leaving school grounds, making sudden verbal outbursts, and screaming excessively. While many of the children had a Behavior Intervention Plan included in their Individual Education Plan, the consequences for their actions seemed to outweigh the positive rewards for their better behaviors. While I instituted token economy systems in my classrooms, I felt that I did not have a firm grasp on catching kids being good. I continuously wore the feelings of wanting to do more for my students like wearing an old shirt every day.
Since I was seven years old, I was writing stories and plays, beginning with “The Spaceship of the Rain,” my story of a boy and girl being visited by an alien, only to be killed by the alien—to which my parents nevertheless applauded. I was motivated to further lean into my creative spirit. I proudly produced, directed, and performed an original play, “Jackie the Realtor,” in my bedroom, where my sister Jenny starred as Jackie.
Fueling my desire to inspire others to perform at their best while they utilize their talents and skills stems from my core values: compassion, empathy, and sincerity. My experiences as an educator combined with my creative spark and my passion for serving others are the essential ingredients in the Creative Outlet Method.
The Creative Outlet Method is the underlying foundation for Joshua’s Stage, the nonprofit organization I founded in 2016, whose mission is to enrich the lives of individuals with special needs by providing the opportunity for each participant to demonstrate creativity; develop self-confidence; gain and maintain high self-esteem; and develop long-lasting relationships with individuals with similar needs in a warm and welcoming environment through fine arts programs, performances, and exhibits.
The Creative Outlet Method seeks to reinforce participants’ positive behaviors while decreasing their negative behaviors, using an innovative and unique positive behavior support system. While instructors at Joshua’s Stage are trained to implement the Creative Outlet Method, I believe that parents of children with special needs can also successfully conduct theater arts and improv activities using the Creative Outlet Method. Knowing that parents/primary caregivers are the strongest influences on a child’s growth, as my parents were for me, you will have the opportunity to make a significantly positive impact on your child’s development by using this book. The activities in this book, combined with the eight steps of the Creative Outlet Method, are designed for you to provide opportunities for your child to demonstrate his/her creativity, increase his/her self-confidence, and build his/her social skills.
You and your child’s creative sparks will shine well into your child’s future.
Joshua Levy is the President of Joshua Levy Educational Consulting. Joshua works with parents, educators, and children’s museums who are seeking to strengthen their relationships with individuals with special needs. Joshua is also the Founder/Executive Director of Joshua’s Stage – an enrichment program for individuals with a wide range of special needs, featuring: after-school programs; camps; workshops, and individual enrichment programs in theatre arts, improv, arts and crafts, music, dance, photography, and create-a-story. Joshua’s innovative The Creative Outlet Method includes strategies for providing children with the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity, increase their self-confidence, and build their social skills. Joshua’s book, The Creative Outlet Method Book of Creativity: At-Home Activities for Children with Special Needs is a fabulous resource for parents, educators, and therapists. Contact Joshua at firstname.lastname@example.org.