By Lisa Jo Rudy , About.com Guide
Updated October 29, 2007
People with autism are often verbal, but lack the skills to speak and interact socially. Sometimes, language skills are echolalic - that is, people with autism repeat others' words verbatim. Some parents have noted that their children with autism can actually recite big chunks of dialogue from TV shows and movies, with precisely the same accent and intonation as the original.
Drama therapy offers the opportunity for verbal individuals with autism to build on their imitative strengths by actually learning, practicing and perfecting "lines" in a fun, supportive setting. It also allows participants to work on social improvisation, practice social skills learned in other settings, work on reading and using body language, and develop speaking skills. Even better, it offers participants the opportunity to actually become actors, star in a show, build confidence, and earn sincere applause.
Cincy Schneider is a pioneer in the field of drama therapy for people with autism, and author of the book Acting Antics: A Theatrical Approach to Teaching Social Understanding to Kids and Teens with Asperger Syndrome. Her classes in theater and movement are offered to kids and adults of all ages, and with a fairly wide range of diagnoses (high functioning autism, Asperger syndrome, PDD-NOS, Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, ADHD, etc.) According to Cindy, participants may gain:
- self-confidence not only in performing, but in interactions
- improved self-esteem; pride in their accomplishments
- improved recognition of emotions in others
- improved identification and labeling of own emotions
- new leisure time activity in a group where they can be successful
- new awareness of volume levels and beginning modulation of level
- new skills for functioning as part of a group
- new skills for following directions
- improved ability to interact with peers
- increased self-confidence through success
The good news, though, is that typical drama instructors have a great deal of what it takes to work with children on the autism spectrum. Many of the games, improv activities and exercises that work for typical theater students can be easily modified for learners on the autism spectrum.
This has made me investigate the programs available out there to help with this. Here are some that I have discovered in our area:
Drama Classes in Sunshine Coast Area
Bats Youth Theatre - BuderimAll enquiries 5445 2515
Caloundra Chorale & Theatre Co.
Show Biz Kids -
Come and join this group of young Thespians aimed at ages 5 to 13 years of age.They meet on Thursday afternoons from 3.30 pm to 5.00pm at our Theatre. Our Experienced Tutors cater for young people of all grades and experience levels. An exciting programme is planned throughout the year,excluding school holidays. For more information please ring Margaret or Elizabeth on 54796086
The Indee Young Players
The Indee Young Players are under noted Coast actor and drama teacher Luke Lanham (Noosa High), and perform in 3 productions a year.
Monday 3.30-4.30pm (Juniors)
Monday 4.30-6.30pm (Teens)
Thursday 4-6pm (All Ages)
Phone: 5472 8200
Independent Theatre at Eumundi
DRAMA CLASSES @ THE “J” With Alli PopeBookings now open for term 1- 2011 commencing:
Juniors: Monday 31st January 2011
Intermediate: Tuesday 1st February 2011
DEVELOPING CONFIDENCE AND CREATIVITY!
From ages 6 years +
- Confidence Building
- Improvisation skills
- Voice Production
Bookings/enquiries 0422 492 735 OR firstname.lastname@example.org
Lind Lane Youth Theatre
Director; Catherine Steer BA (Hons) Performing Arts PGCE
UK Drama specialist, professional performer and teacher running new youth theatre in purpose built venue at Lind Lane Theatre, Nambour.
Students must be able to commit to two sessions per week;
Monday and Thursdays 5 -7.30 Age group 12 -18
Phone Catherine on 0458 807 670
or emaill: email@example.com
Emphasis on plays, musicals, festivals and other public performance opportunities. Tuition in; acting skills, circus skills, puppetry, mask, film-making, playwriting.
Real training in a real theatre.
Noosa Arts TheatreACTING CLASSES - With Johanna Wallace
Children’s Classes - (7-11) - Monday or Tuesday - 4-5pm
Teenager’s Classes - (12-17) - Monday or Tuesday - 5-6:30pm
The children and teen classes will work towards the presentation of a play at the conclusion of each term. These will be showcased for parents during class time.
Classes incorporate team-work, improvisation, voice-work and stagecraft. There is always a focus on developing creativity and confidence for stage and for life.
The children and teenage classes are booked on a term basis (usually ten lessons).
Cost is $155 per term and we follow the school calendar.
Adult Class - (18+) - Monday 7-8:30pm
In contrast to the children and teen classes, which are highly structured and culminate in an end-of-term performance, the adult classes are more flexible and tailored to the specific needs of the individual, whilst working within a group.
The class is a 90-minute workshop that looks at elements of acting such as voice production, relaxation, improvisation and character development.
The adult class costs $15 per 90 minute class.
For more information, or to book a place in the Children's, Teenager's or Adult Classes call Johanna Wallace on 0407 873 232.
MUSICAL THEATRE CLASSES - NEW IN 2011Saturdays 2-4pm
Conducted by Naomi Craddock
Offering group classes for ages 7 to 18 in:
Dance and movement
Drama and presentation
For more information, or to book a place, call Naomi on 5442 2668, 0448 131 248, firstname.lastname@example.org
This year, the Craddock Academy of Dramatic and Musical Arts (CADMA ), will be holding musical theatre/performing arts courses at Noosa Arts Theatre on Saturdays.
These classes cover vocal training for the spoken and singing voice; movement and dance; acting skills including mime and scripted drama; and training in performance skills, such as presentation for musicians, story telling, and many more. Students do regular performances and enter Trinity College examinations as a group and individually.
Tutors include Naomi Craddock, Ben Adams, who recently starred in Fiddler on the Roof and star of the big stage, Dale Pengelly
Pengelly has starred in some of the country’s biggest musical productions, including Boy from Oz, where he was understudy to Todd McKenney in the role of Peter Allen a role he reprised here on the coast in 2009. He also starred as Johnny O’Keefe in SHOUT! at the Events Centre in Caloundra in 2008 and is the consumate professional.
To book or for more information phone Naomi on 5442 2668 or 0448 13 12 48,
or email email@example.com.