Teaching Artists sing and ASL interpret songs from past Art of Me performances. Photo by Jason Bucklin.

The Art of Social Skills

The Art of Social Skills is Upstream Arts’ original program model and serves as the base for all of our other models. The Art of Social Skills is about developing social/emotional and communication skills vital to success in school, work, and community while exploring the foundational elements of visual art, theater, poetry, music, and dance. Through the artistic practice we focus on practicing the fundamentals of social interaction; turn taking, attending to others, sharing, asking for help, making choices, personal boundaries, conflict resolution, emotional regulation, and working with others. For our youngest participants, we can involve parents, guardians, and caregivers, emphasizing creative play and bonding.

The Art of Social Skills can be adapted to be relevant for individuals with disabilities at every stage of life, from birth to retirement. 

  • School Programs: pre-K-12 classrooms and Transition Programs
  • Adult Programs: Adult Day Programs or disability service providers serving individuals ages 21+
  • Community Programs: arts organizations, community organizations, friendship clubs, Parks and Recreation

Want to learn more? Read our residency FAQs.

“My students learned to show feeling in paintings. Express energies in poems. How to engage in acting scenarios. They also learned how music and motion move with different feelings.”

Special Education Teacher, Minneapolis Public Schools


“It’s not the standard academic areas like math and science where we see the greatest need. The area of greatest need for all of our Special Education students is social and communication skills. This is the area where we need to focus and that is central to their success.”

Special Education Director, Minneapolis Public Schools



 Curious about bringing Upstream Arts to your school or organization?

Contact us at [email protected] to set up a 1 hour FREEBIE!

This session – absolutely free of charge – can offer insight into how we work to support individuals with a range of cognitive, developmental, emotional, behavioral, and physical disabilities.