Since the time of the Greeks, theater has been used to help people cope with their emotions. It is a powerful tool not only for self-expression, but also to better understand the feelings of others.
This Thursday, ELBS students will be performing in their annual collaboration with the Erie Playhouse. This year’s show is Dolly Parton’s I Am a Rainbow. Based off of her book, the play is a fun way for children to understand and talk about their own feelings. After all, we each have rainbow of feelings inside… from being tickled pink, green with envy or even feeling blue!
Our partnership with Erie Playhouse has proven to be a wonderful addition to our arts program in the school. Theater therapy, as it may be referred to, provides numerous opportunities for the students to learn and grow.
Much like modeling, theater gives students a chance to practice skills in communication, movement, pretend play, and social interaction, as well as help them identify key social cues such as recognizing facial expressions – a deficit we see often in children with autism.
In my reading, I came across a study in which 8 children with autism were paired with a typical peer to evaluate the effects of theater therapy. The group, Social Emotional NeuroScience Endocrinology (SENSE) Theatre, a community-based intervention program, hypothesized that children with autism would demonstrate improvement in social perception (memory of faces, the expression of emotions, and theory of mind) skills and adaptive functioning.
The results showed promise in using a theatrical approach and setting, along with established behavioral science methods, to facilitate the development of core areas of challenge in youth with autism.
We have enjoyed our collaboration with the Erie Playhouse over the years and hope that it will continue to grow and flourish! And if you have a chance to stop by ELBS on Thursday at 10:00, come watch I Am A Rainbow!