This past weekend at TedXBloomington, Steve Volan gave intimate glimpses into his perceptions of the world that were moving, inspiring and resulted in a standing ovation. I have long been a supporter and participant in Children's Theatre, but never imagined that learning improv techniques would be a key to learning social interaction skills for Autism.
In talking about how interacting with others feels to him, Steve says:
"stage fright is a natural feeling- now imagine that feeling every time you cross someone's path...."
"every social interaction for me is like being on a stage..."
"people on the autism spectrum has this rolling continuous case of stage fright..."
Once stated that well, it seems obvious that all the skills we use to help kids overcome stage fright and learn stage skills would be helpful to kids with autism. Although there is no known research to show this helps, there are several programs and dramatherapy is a recognized threatment. There is even a summer theatre camp specifically for Asperger's kids, and a conference coming up in May in Chicago.
Tricks of the trade that work for actors playing a role work for those at the Autism end of the spectrum.... reminding us all that we all play roles in life.
Make sure you grab a tissue and click through on the link to view the video of his talk.