Know more about Drama therapy for kids with autism

Know more about Drama therapy for kids with autism

16 December 2019 Admin General Media

Drama therapy involves using theatrical exercises such as improvisation, scene acting, physical acting etc. to strengthen social communication skills. It helps special needs children improve their ability to interact with others. Those on the autism spectrum can find it fun and effective. For some children with autism, language skills may be echolalic – which means they repeat words verbatim. They can recite large chunks of dialogues from shows and movies with identical accents and intonations. Drama therapy gives them the opportunity to build on their strengths by learning, practicing and perfecting lines in a favorable environment. Kids can also practice social skills, improve on reading and using body language, and develop speaking skills. How does Drama Therapy help? Autism impacts the areas of communication, social skills and behavior of children. A majority of autistic children are intellectually challenged and have limitations which prevent them from achieving age-appropriate social responsibility and personal independence. However, some of them have talents such as exceptional rote memory, which can be used with drama therapy to improve their social behavior. Cindy Schneider, author of the book Acting Antics: A Theatrical Approach to Teaching Social Understanding to Kids and Teens with Asperger Syndrome, conducts classes in theatre and movement. She focuses on children with Autism, ADHD and Social Communication Disorder among others. Cindy believes that Drama Therapy helps ASD children to:

  1. Gain self-confidence in performing and also in interactions
  2. Improve self-esteem and take pride in their achievements
  3. Improve recognition of emotions in others
  4. Identify and label their own emotions
  5. Indulge in a group activity where they can be successful
  6. Learn more about volume levels and voice modulation
  7. Learn new skills for functioning as part of a group
  8. Discover skills for following directions
  9. Improve their ability to interact with friends

Drama therapy is relatively new and it may not be easy to find a drama therapist who specializes in autism. However, most drama instructors have good knowledge and experience of what it takes to work with children on the autism spectrum. Role play games, improv activities and exercises can be easily modified for children with autism. Since drama therapy uses interaction and play, children with autism can benefit in order to improve social skills and self-expression. Acting allows them to try out new behaviors in a supportive and safe setting. It can help them overcome social anxiety and potentially change their lives.