Dramatherapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Dramatherapy has many benefits for clients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Dramatherapy sessions are highly structured which is very supportive for clients with ASD, yet at the same time they are client-led. Going at the client’s own pace, interacting in the moment, and being led by the client’s preferences offers them a sense of empowerment and a time and space that is just for them. Working with the clients inner psychological needs, the Dramatherapist uses a range of art forms tailored to each individual client. Dramatherapy is often a sensory experience and uses elements such as touch, sound and colours to engage the senses. These can be increased if a client requires a heightened sensory experience or decreased if the client has any sensitivity.The Sesame approach to Drama and Movement therapy uses “movement with touch and sound”, an intensive interaction which can be very beneficial for those with ASD. This method is a non-verbal form of communication accessible to the client and on which relationships can be built, exploring new forms of emotional expression and ways of being. This can be particularly beneficial for those clients who are experiencing difficulty in their lives and may have trouble expressing it.
Dramatherapy includes singing, rhythm and music which provide structure and an enjoyable creative outlet. Movement is particularly useful for those clients with ASD because it allows the clients to get a better sense of themselves in space and in relationship with the therapist. It allows the client to interact with the world physically and therefore explore how they fit in with their environment. Using developmental movement techniques from Sherbourne, clients can experiment with a range of different relationship experiences with the therapist including “with”, “shared” and “against”. Exploring these different relationships through movement encourages the ability to build relationships and promotes eye contact within the therapy session itself, and this may transfer to the rest of the client’s life.
Play is another important element in Dramatherapy, being essential to a child’s development and used in different ways throughout a child’s and adult’s life. The Dramatherapist is able to work with play at whatever level the client requires, building yet further the experiences of the client.