Can “make believe” help with autism?

Subtitle: It did for me…

Two of the core elements of autism, communication and social interaction, are considered deficient, missing, or outside the “norm” (whatever that means) with us autistics.

Furthermore it is often written about that we autistics live in our own “world” with our own reality. The truth is that everyone regardless of whether or not they are autistic experiences their own reality based on what they have perceived or learned over the years.

The challenge when we’re young is figuring out how to assimilate amongst our peers. It’s foreign to us even though we desperately want those connections and to fit in. But how do we learn the process to accomplish that when it’s not an innate skill that we’re born with?

That’s what this article is all about. Using drama lessons to help autistic children apply their skill of “make believe” but with a systematic script of words, actions, and feelings to learn and practice.

In 1958 when I was diagnosed autistic, that’s exactly what my mother did. She enrolled me in a local theatrical school in Los Angeles, California taking drama lessons, singing lessons, and tap dancing lessons.

The tap dancing lessons helped me to learn how to control my limbs that did not respond naturally to my brain signals. The singing lessons helped me to learn how to articulate and pronounce words more correctly along with slowing my rate of speech by systematically using the rhythm of music and the exact placement of a word within a song. And most importantly the drama lessons helped me to learn how society interprets and reacts to stimuli or messages from others, and to store those systemic patterns for further use.

By the time that I entered high school, those drama lessons gave me a set of scripts to apply in all sorts of situations with other people. It has always been a work in progress for me, and it still is today at my current age of 64.

My mother believed in “thinking out of the box” in 1958 by incorporating these methods to help her autistic child, and now the professionals are finally catching up.

Who would have thought? 🙂

To be continued…

Excerpt: “Improvisation exercises are also useful because so many autistic kids otherwise rely on “scripts” to navigate social situations.”

Article from The Atlantic: ‘Boosting Social Skills in Autistic Kids With Drama

Author: David Moore Boulware

Me = [scientist, researcher, writer, photographer, autistic savant, alter ego (Leonard (the friendly vegetarian lizard from an alien oval planet)), ...]

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