Jun 13

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How Improv Theater Techniques Can Help Kids with Autism

How Improv Theater Techniques Can Help Kids with Autism

How Improv Theater Techniques Can Help Kids with Autism

Have you considered trying improv theater or using these techniques to help your child with autism? The Psychology Lab at Indiana State University has discovered that improvisational theater can help kids learn social skills and improve their behavior.

What is Improv Theater?

Improv theater, also known as improvisational or live theater, is based on the idea that the participants have to make up the characters and plot on the spot. They may get directions from the audience or pick out a prompt from a hat, but they have the ultimate responsibility for creating the scene.

Our autistic grandson loves to do this!  He will visit us and have us take part and give us parts for a small skit!   His favorite is having us be the sun, rain, clouds and seeds.   He has a small skit on how each takes part in growing the seed!  So cute.

How can Improvisational Theater Help Autism?

Researchers at the Psychology Lab at Indiana State University found that using the techniques from improvisational theater could benefit kids with autism. The setting is fun, so children are able to learn and practice their social skills without intimidation. In addition, theater is flexible, and the prompts can be adjusted to fit individual needs.

Which Techniques Work Best?

The research is being used at camps for teens with autism such as Camp Yes And. The main techniques are working in groups, practicing improv and learning new social skills. Children and teens benefit from being able to act out specific emotions, so they can recognize them in real life.

For example, a child may be asked to do a short improv sketch about feeling happy. This forces him or her to figure out the right facial expressions, sounds and words that are associated with this emotion.  Showing feelings and expressing them is a hard thing for children with autism so this really helps. The audience, which is filled with other kids who have autism, also benefits because they have to guess which emotion he or she is portraying.

Improv theater is already helping children with autism around the country. If you are interested in this type of program for your child, then you may want to check local theater organizations and other youth associations.   You may also want to see if your school may have such a class.

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