Class photo from Next Steps Theater Academy

Theater training for students on the autism spectrum

Register for Next Steps

Next Steps

Using research-based best practices, Next Steps serves young people through our philosophy of teaching life skills through stage skills. We strive to help each student take their next steps as an artist and a person. First Stage creates a safe space for all students to be creative and be themselves without judgment or fear of failure. Guided by our philosophy of teaching life skills through stage skills, students will experience the joy of theater each day with a team of teaching artists and special education professionals.

We serve both verbal and non-verbal students, students with classic autism, PDD-NOS, and other sensory processing disorders. With small class sizes, our curriculum explores acting, singing, dancing and improvisation, through which students improve social understanding, fine and gross motor skills, empathy, conversation skills, public speaking and confidence. 

Class Sizes: 8 students; our classroom model includes teams of lead teachers, special education professionals, and teaching assistants with approximately a 2:1 student to teacher ratio. Family aides may accompany a student to class as necessary and agreed upon between the family and First Stage.

Accommodations: Sensory supports, quiet rooms, social stories, visual schedules, individualized goal setting, peer role models, video modeling, and small student to teacher ratio are just few of the supports utilized as needed throughout the session.

For more information about Next Steps, please contact us at or (414) 267-2972.

Choose "For Students on the Autism Spectrum" to find the Next Steps Classes

Summer 2024

August 19-23 from 9AM-12PM at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.

Beginning of Day
Students gather to prepare, share goals, and encourage each other to do their best.

Acting Theory
Students will explore character, relationships, action, and text while developing overall acting skills and confidence.

Musical Theater
Students will increase their versatility and work on new vocal techniques while exploring the art of telling a story through words, music, and movement.

End of Day
Each day concludes with a gathering to reflect and acknowledge the hard work of their fellow students.

Registration opens February 1

A special registration form will be required. To register, email or call (414) 267-2970.

Sensory Friendly Performances

Frist Stage offers Sensory Friendly Performances throughout each season, where families with children who need sensory accommodations can share the experience of seeing family-friendly theater.

These performances feature a welcoming environment including lower sound, lights up, and available quiet areas staffed by educators experienced with the care of students with autism and other developmental differences. 

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Milwaukee PBS feature on Next Steps

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Milwaukee Business Journal Eureka Award Winner

Next Steps is a winner of the Business Journal's Eureka Awards, which recognize creativity, innovation, leaps forward and progress in business, the arts, education, health care and other areas.


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