A crowd of school children walk through Mia's main entrance.

Art is Community 2018

Alicia Kleppinger’s son had recently been diagnosed as neurodiverse. He was 2 years old. Kleppinger was facing a long and uncertain future. Then she heard about Mia’s Social Narratives guides, which explain the museum experience to the neurodiverse community to help plan their visit.

“I’m crying tears of happiness,” Kleppinger said in response to an Instagram post about Mia’s Social Narratives. “Thank you, thank you for including him.”

The illustrated guides are available online at artsmia.org and at the front desk, and come in three slightly different versions: for school groups, families, and adults and teens. The museum also offers a guide to sensory-friendly spaces in the galleries, where visitors can expect certain types of light, sound, and more or less crowding.

“I’m still struggling with how we will fit in out in public,” Kleppinger says of her son’s behavior, which can draw attention to himself. I wasn’t sure if the galleries were the right place for him given some of the challenges that we have. I worry that people don’t understand there’s more to what they’re seeing.”

Kleppinger now feels reassured. “It means a lot to me that you’re welcoming not just the regular population that comes to visit. I wouldn’t hesitate to come now.”