Heading into school can be a fun and nervous time for children. It can be exciting and become an adventure, but it can also be hard to transition back into the hallways and classrooms. Children have to be able to navigate the social experience that happens daily. From the classrooms, hallways, playground and lunchroom, a child will have to figure out how to talk with others and stay on topic in the classroom. However, this does not come easy for everyone. It can be hard for children on the Autism Spectrum to make this transition. The social and communication struggles are main factors that come with Autism.
There are however, efforts being done to teach children with high-functioning autism how to better interact socially. Blythe Corbett, an associate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt says that “drama can be transformative. Drama helps children with autism learn how to switch topics quicker and have a more flexible and reciprocal conversation.” Through Corbett’s SENSE Theater program, children learn how to role-play and do improvisation. Corbett says “when you talk with a person with autism about something that is interesting to them, they can do it. Their challenge is when you switch topics.” Drama allows these children to grow and have fun while doing it.
Here at The Rose, we want to leave a lasting impact on every child that we come into contact with. However, we cannot bring the theater to every school. Because of this, we want to help equip teachers with knowledge and training that they can take back to their classrooms when school starts.
On August 27, We will be offering a free interactive professional development workshop for educators. Tessa L. Derfner, Coordinator for Arts Instruction and Programming for the Spectrum School in New York City will present this hands-on workshop. She will share strategies and techniques for successfully addressing the social and emotional needs of students on the Autism Spectrum using the vehicle of musical theater.