Social Story (TM) and technology use by autistic audiences in relation to the arts and arts engagement is entirely new:
The app devised for this project will be a form of assistive technology to increase autistic audiences’ participation in the arts. There is currently no evidence of technology being used in this way for autistic children, children or disabled audiences for the arts. Increasing disabled and young audiences for the arts is a major concern to arts organisations as evidenced by recent research.
Experiences of the arts in childhood creates life-long patrons and practitioners; autistic children come with families – involving them also involves parents and siblings (‘Encourage children today to build audiences for tomorrow’, Anni Oskala, Emily Keaney, Tak Wing Chan, Catherine Bunting, Arts Council England, March 2009).
The findings from this project will be transferable to the theatre and other arts contexts:
“Children’s theatre in the UK is thriving right now.
Interest is growing in the educational, emotional and expressive benefits of theatre for young people; arguments about why children should watch theatre have become a central motif in debates about cultural policy and arts education.”
Dr Matthew Young, The Young Audience, Trentham Books, 2010
New research in the US is starting to posit the specific requirements of autistic children and their families for the arts – this project aims to contribute to this debate and to increase its presence in the UK:
‘Improving the Museum Experiences of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Their Families: An Exploratory Examination of Their Motivations and Needs and Using Web-based Resources to Meet Them’, Lesley A. Langa, Pino Monaco et al Curator: The Museum Journal Volume 56, Issue 3, July 2013
“ Our son is autistic. His behaviour can be very challenging in public and there are very few places we can take him for entertainment. Coming to see Circus Starr enables my son to experience not only new wonderful performances, but sit amongst an audience in a Theatre or a Big Top, which teaches him social skills.”
“Social stories and visual supports can be really valuable tools for many people with autism, helping them navigate situations like days out that many of us might take for granted”
Heather Wildsmith, Cultural Development Manager, National Autistic Society
Interesting story - helping children to stay strong and happy whatever life has in store.
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