HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO
AMIGO FAMILY COUNSELING IMPROVES SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS & HUMAN CONNECTION FOR THOSE WITH ASD BY TEACHING THEM "HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO"
Dr. Emilio Amigo, PhD, Clinical Director of Amigo Family Counseling, LLC in Columbus, OH, garners much public attention with his clinical group therapy program for individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis. The program, named the Respons∙ability Social Therapy™ (RST) program, caught the attention of Filmmaker and Director Alexandra Shiva, who aspired to capture the essence of Dr. Amigo's work through film. Both Shiva and Amigo share commonalities; both are true visionaries driven by the passion and expertise behind their work. Shiva's vision came to fruition in the rare and remarkable documentary "How to Dance in Ohio".
The film features three young ladies living with Autism Spectrum Disorder as they go through the trails and triumphs of preparing for a spring formal within their ASD community of fellow clients at AFC. The social nuances associated with going to a formal event can be daunting to individuals with ASD. Because social impairment is one fundamental aspect of ASD, this process can be not only intimidating to those on the spectrum, it can also be confusing and distressing.
In the film, one witnesses how Dr. Amigo and his clinical staff guide the clients through the process of delving into the core social challenges of their condition in order to develop new skills and abilities. The AFC staff assist the clients with all steps of the process, including contemplating who might be a good date, accepting rejection, considering what is and is not socially appropriate on a date, buying socially appropriate clothes, practing how to dance with another person, among many other skills.
This film, in association with Blumhouse Productions and Gidalya Pictures, made a huge impact on viewers. The documentary, winner of a 2015 Peabody Award and a 2015 Official Selection film at the Sundance Film Festival, is now celebrated by many in the film and ASD community in the US and abroad. Moreover, facilities dedicated to autism support, advocacy, and research applaud Dr. Amigo's work.
"How to Dance in Ohio" premiered at the UCLA Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the Fall of 2016. The premiere attracted several hundred attendees. In response to the screening, Vicky Goodman, Founder and President of Friends of the Semel Institute, commented to Dr. Amigo, "The film was so touching and heartwarming and gave us such an insight into the challenges that people with developmental disabilities face. You are doing truly noble work and it is people like you that make the world a better place. Your patience, creativity, and spirit all came through in the film, and these young people are fortunate to have a champion like you at their side. You were right when you said that this film speaks to all of us and shows not only our vulnerabilities but our humanity."
When viewing the film, one will walk away feeling inspired, enlightened, and reflective. The beauty of the film is that it both educates and challenges its viewer and invites the public to enter directly into the lives of those living with autism. It evokes a unique realization of how those with autism are, in ways, similar to those of us without the condition, and yet they are marked by struggles and gifts that most do not fully comprehend.