Children and young people with autism and asperger syndrome
Jaiveer is 7 years old and has Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He attends a mainstream school that has a specialist unit for children with ASD. A Roundabout dramatherapist works in the school 2 days a week running dramatherapy sessions for groups and individuals. Jaiveer was referred to individual dramatherapy by his class teacher because he was becoming stressed at school. She felt that he had poor peer relationships, sometimes hitting out at children and adults and he often withdrew from the class needing one to one support. She spoke to his parents about the referral and they were invited to come to school to meet with the dramatherapist to talk about Jaiveer and to hear about what dramatherapy might be able to offer him.
The dramatherapist then observed Jaiveer in class and subsequently invited him to come and meet her in the dramatherapy room. Jaiveer came along with a Teaching Assistant (TA) to support him with meeting a new adult. Together, Jaiveer, the dramatherapist and the TA explored the room and some of the dramatherapy materials. Jaiveer really liked the different pieces of coloured fabric and in particular a large piece of lycra which he was able to pull and stretch and wrap himself in. The TA and the dramatherapist offered to pull Jaiveer around the room while he lay on the lycra and this developed into a short story about a magical adventure on a flying carpet. Jaiveer listened intently and laughed at the movements and sounds accompanying the story. At the end of the session the dramatherapist asked Jaiveer if he would like to come again the next week and he enthusiastically said ‘Yes’.
For the next couple of weeks Jaiveer attended the sessions with his TA. Alongside story work Jaiveer was invited to think about his week and express his feelings using feeling cards and sounds. Jaiveer appeared to look forward to his weekly session and as his confidence grew the TA withdrew. The sessions focused on supporting Jaiveer to develop confidence to express himself through words, sounds and movement. Jaiveer was encouraged to identify his feelings and to recognise feelings expressed by others. Jaiveer and the dramatherapist created a series of stories using puppets that centred on two characters created by Jaiveer – a dog and his owner a boy named ‘Jay’. These friends had many adventures together and were able to share their feelings.
As Jaiveer continued to attend dramatherapy his teacher commented that he appeared to have more interest in playing with his peers and was more tolerant of being in a group in class. He appeared happier in himself and more confident in expressing his needs. His parents also commented that his behaviour had improved at home. Jaiveer attended sessions for two school terms.
‘Jaiveer has quite complex needs related to emotions and how he is perceived by others. He really benefitted from 1:1 sessions where he could explore issues that were significant to him without any peer pressure. His anxiety levels have definitely reduced since his work with the dramatherapist.’ Jaiveer’s Teacher
‘It has helped him explore his emotions, calm down and communicate. He also enjoys talking about the story and the characters they invent and act out. Also the Dramatherapists were always willing to include any current problems in their sessions. Many thanks for all your hardwork and great kindness.’ Jaiveer’s Parents
* All names have been changed to protect the identity of our clients.
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