UT Informal Classes Aimed at Adults with IDDs – Spring 2019

February 5, 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Biomedical Engineering (BME) building
107 W Dean Keeton St
Austin TX
Jon Pierce

I am excited to announce our exciting lineup for spring courses aimed at adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) at the University of Texas at Austin. For the past 10 years, we have hosted this unique opportunity for adults with IDDs to learn a diverse range of engaging topics while having fun socializing with UT student volunteers.

We are encouraging adults (18 years and older) with any type of IDD (autism, Down syndrome, brain injury, etc…) to sign up. Please see listing below and the attached flier for course descriptions and their special format. Specific questions about our program can be addressed to me via email or phone.

I will host a 1-hour open house and orientation for new or curious students at 3pm on Sunday January 27, 2019 at the Littlefield café on campus.

Please go to the blue website links below or on the attached flier to sign up via the UT Informal Classes website. Each course costs $125 for six once-per-week meetings. Some courses require an additional fee for supplies or tickets. Three courses are offered throughout the semester – please check dates. Missed classes due to vacation or illness are acceptable. Our courses are limited to 10-13 students with IDD to preserve an effective student-teacher ratio. Because registration is first-come/first-served, please sign up quickly for the class(es) you want!!


PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL to your friends and families who might be interested!!

Thank you for joining us to support the growing movement of education programs aimed at adults with IDDs.

Sincerely, Jon Pierce

Program Coordinator- UT Informal Classes

Associate Professor – Dept Neuroscience


UT Informal Classes Aimed at Adults with IDDs – Spring 2019


Course title Instructors Enrollment Course cost Day Dates Times
Stop Motion Animation Production Johnny Villarreal 10 $135 Tuesdays 2/5- 3/12/19 6:00-8:00pm
Mona Lisa, Smile! Renaissance Art Judith LeBlanc 13 $125 Wednesdays 2/6 – 3/13/19 6:00-8:00pm
Musical Performance:

Fiddler on the Roof

Joshua Levy 13 $125 Mondays 2/11 – 3/25/19 6:00-8:00pm
The Facts and Fictions of Onscreen Romance Lucy Gross 13 $125 Tuesdays 3/26-4/30/19 6:00-8:00pm
Wonders of Wizardry Scott Butki 13 $125 Wednesdays 3/27-5/1/19 6:00-8:00pm
How Laughing is Good For You  

Jerry Horton












Stop Motion Animation Production Aimed at Adults with IDDs 

Let’s bring your ideas to life!  During this course, students will learn about the various stages of production using stop motion animation. Over the six week course students will brainstorm ideas and write short stories or make music videos. Everyone will create artwork to be used, and collaboratively edit and sound track their work.  The course will culminate in a showcase of the physical materials created and the work produced.  Please note: Bring a $40 fee to the first class meeting which will be paid to the instructor to cover the cost of software licenses, guest artists, food and materials.

Mona Lisa, Smile! Renaissance Art Aimed at Adults with IDD

Do you know Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael? No, not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but the Renaissance artists! Come learn about these artists and many others as we explore Italian culture and art. For each class we will explore different renaissance works and create our own masterpieces. Our last class will feature a gallery show and presentations of student’s artwork and knowledge. Sign up to become a Renaissance man or woman! Please note: Bring a $20 fee to the first class meeting which will be paid to the instructor to cover the cost of guest artists, food and materials.

Musical Performance Appreciation – Fiddler on the Roof

Do you love musicals? Do you like a good story rich in culture and tradition? Join us as we travel back in time to a land filled with love, comedy, dynamic dancing, and a little family drama with Fiddler on the Roof. In this class, you will learn what goes into making a musical production – everything from musical composition, acting, singing, dancing, set design, choreography, costumes, plot, and history. You will also learn how to be a great audience member by practicing with your classmates. We will study life in a small village in Old World Russia by learning about their culture and traditions including what they ate, how they talked, and how they dressed. For the special class finale, we will attend a performance of Fiddler on the Roof at Bass Concert Hall! Fee for subsidized tickets to final performance ($59) is not included in price of course.

Romcoms Debunked: The Facts and Fictions of Onscreen Romance

Fact: we love movies! Movies can entertain, inspire and sometimes teach us. Lots of us use onscreen romances as a tool for learning about relationships. Films shape our expectations for what real life should be based on fictional characters. Fact: movies don’t always give us realistic pictures of what life and love really looks like. Issues like consent, compatibility and even conversation are often missing from the films we love. Although these issues might not make it into Blockbusters, they are crucial pieces of any healthy relationship. In this course, we will use film as a vehicle for talking about relationships and decide for ourselves what is fact and fiction when it comes to the Big Screen. Students will learn about film and talk about interpersonal relationships through the lens of movies. Lights, camera, action… DISCUSS! No extra course fee.


Wonders of Wizardry

Wizards, muggles, and fantastic beasts – oh my! Let’s talk about Harry Potter: in this course we will learn and discuss all things harry potter, from the books to the movies to which characters, scenes, and concepts are our favorites and why. Each class, we will also discuss what universal life lessons can be learned from these stories that are adored by people all over the world. We will host guest speakers with expertise in everything HP. Please note: Bring a $10 fee to the first class meeting which will be paid to the instructor to cover the cost of guest artists, food and materials.


How Laughing is Good For You

If you like a good joke, a good laugh, maybe being silly, sometimes goofy–hey, that is “normal” and what this class is all about. What is funny, laughable, and why? What isn’t? Why is humor healthy? People called “sociologists” actually use science to study and understand humor–and we’re going to do some of that in this class. We all have a bunch of Norms in our lives guiding us so we know when it’s good to laugh and when it’s not, so we’ll do some detective work and see if we can find some. (“Hey Norm, watchca doin’?) We’ll even break a Norm or two just for fun, o.k.?  So, sign up, bring your silly bone and join the class. No extra course fee.


For each class, students with IDDs may be dropped off at the UT Littlefield Café to socialize for 30 minutes with each other and screened volunteer students from UT.  Students will then participate in an interactive discussion about the topic for the day in the Biomedical Engineering (BME) building across from the café. Here they can follow along with handouts of class slides and bring in their homework to discuss with their peers. Lastly, students will complete simple but fun projects. Families can pick up their student by the café at the end of each class.  Occasional student absences are acceptable due to vacations and illnesses.

Our instructors have extensive experience working with adults with IDDs. They share a clear passion and commitment towards opening opportunities for adults with IDD in education and employment. Our volunteers are drawn from a competitive list of undergraduate and graduate UT students who are on education, medical, or research-track careers. They are eager to befriend adults with IDDs in this social and educational setting. An orientation and open house for new students and their families will be held on Sunday January 27th at 3pm at the Littlefield café on campus

  •  Full or partial scholarships available for adults with Down syndrome via DSACT or Ruby’s Rainbow.
  • Additional scholarships for adults with autism are offered via Autism Society of Texas
  • Texas DADS and TWC have reimbursed expenses for our courses


Please sign up via UT Informal Classes website on under the unique series Adults with IDDs subsection.


Please address all questions to Program Coordinator Jon Pierce

Cell: 512-529-9331