24 August 2013

Play and ASD

"We are on the battlefront 24/7, it’s nice to be able to take them places that we don't have to apologize for who they are." -Sharon C.

“This is the first time in ten years we’ve been able to take our child to a social event.” -Jill S.

Every child is unique--and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are no exception. Yet, with all the distinctions from one child to the next, PlayFull believes there is a medium that speaks to them all: play.

In 2008, Chicago Children's Theatre Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell founded The Red Kite Project, an initiative dedicated to bringing joy through the arts to children with complex disabilities and their families. Red Kite conducts workshops in public schools and they produce "interactive, multisensory" performances where children with ASD will feel right at home. The quotes above are testimonials about Red Kite. The results speak for themselves, methinks!

In May of this year students from Northwestern University partnered with The Red Kite Project to put on a show called "Diving In." As the show started, performers sang "Row, row, row your boat"--with a twist. Lyrics in the song were changed to incorporate interactive movements and sounds. As the performers sang about a lion, children could roar freely without being told they were "interrupting the show" or that they needed to be quiet.

In an article about "Diving In" in the ChicagoTribune, Jacqueline Russell explains:

“Our education team, the stage management and run crew, the sound designer and cast all came together to modify this one performance for our special guests. It was a huge group effort with volunteers and staff, an all-hands-on-deck attitude...Talking and allowing their child to talk during the show was encouraged.”

Red Kite's name reflects their belief that "every child with autism has a spirit ready to take flight." Inspiring!

Of course, there are many more ways than theatre to bless children with ASD and their families. I was also inspired by an initiative undertaken by the Evangelical Covenant Church. Earlier this month they hosted their first-ever camp designed especially for children with ASD and their families. The camp featured outdoor activities and interactive worship. Children could be themselves and could enjoy singing and learning in their own way. Parents of children with ASD were also ministered to as they felt relieved that, for once, they didn't have to explain to someone the unique challenges they face as a family because of ASD.

Play really is a universal language. 


To learn more about play and its many applications, keep up with PlayFull on Facebook or write us to discern if we can be of help to you. 

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