Spencer, a student at The Help Group’s Village Glen School in Culver City, has a guest-starring role on NBC’s Parenthood featuring favorite family, the Braverman’s, airing this Thursday, January 22.

By the age of eight, Spencer began performing with Elaine Hall’s Miracle Project, an after school musical and theater arts program for young people with autism and other special needs. Last year she auditioned for Parenthood to be part of the show’s segment about the opening of “The Chambers School” – a school for children with special needs. Kristina and Adam Braverman establish this school after their son Max who has Asperger’s, had been repeatedly bullied.  Spencer has appeared in select Parenthood episodes about “The Chambers School” with Elena, a student from The Help Group’s Village Glen School and a Miracle Project participant, and Atticus, a student who attends the The Help Group’s Westview program and the Miracle Project.

After hearing Spencer sing Ave Maria on set one day, Jason Katims, executive producer and head writer for Parenthood, wrote a special role for her. The Help Group was proud to present its 2010 Champions for Children award to Jason and Kathleen Katims for their heartfelt efforts that touch the lives of children with autism and their families.

Spencer’s mother, Jill describes what it was like to watch Spencer who is now 16-years old, perform on set, “She sang so confidently.  To see her standing there so infused with possibility was one of the most incredible experiences. “With this role Jason gave Spencer such an amazing gift. I can’t thank him enough for giving our families a voice through Max and through the Braverman’s – and for understanding the experience of families living with autism.”

Just last spring, Spencer performed the leading role of Dorothy in The Help Group’s production of “Oz”, and she will be performing in the LA Opera’s production of “Noah’s Flood”, a community opera, free to the public this coming March 7th and 8th at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Downtown Los Angeles.  Describing how her daughter has found “such a positive way to express herself” through song, Jill says, “It’s so important for any child to find a passion.  I’m so happy that Spencer has found hers.”

Our congratulations to Spencer, Elena and Atticus ~ and our many thanks to Jason Katims for shining such positive light on the abilities of young people with special needs.
Be sure to tune in tonight at 10p.