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Developing social skills in autistic children through ‘Relaxed Performances’

Kempe, A. (2014) Developing social skills in autistic children through ‘Relaxed Performances’. Support for Learning, 29 (3). pp. 261-274. ISSN 0268-2141

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/1467-9604.12062


Families living with autism often feel unable to attend social and cultural events largely due to the fear of their child attracting negative or even aggressive reactions from others. The ‘joint attention’ that is part of the theatre experience however may be a powerful factor in the development of social and communication skills for such children. ‘Relaxed performances’ offer an opportunity for them to access and engage with theatre by making special arrangements designed to reduce tensions associated with visits to public places. Aspects of the production such as the use of lighting and sound effects which may trigger adverse reactions are also adjusted. This paper reports on how one local theatre drew on the findings of a national project to mount a ‘relaxed performance’ of their annual pantomime. It discusses the theatre’s preparations and presents evidence of the impact the event had on local children with autism and their families. The success of both the national and this local project marks a new beginning for improved access to the theatre for an audience that has hitherto felt largely excluded.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:37713
Uncontrolled Keywords:autism; joint attention; relaxed performance

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