You may expect stage fright and nerves when you’re directing a play, even with seasoned actors. What play director Richard Lewis encounters adds another dimension: His actors have conditions that can make it difficult for them to speak.
The Augmentative and Alternative Communication Theater Camp serves individuals with autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental and physical disorders that can make it difficult for them to communicate in typical ways. Instead, they use language programs on iPads and other devices to talk for them.
The camp was developed by the Department of Communication Disorders and Deaf Education at Fontbonne University. Department chair Gale Rice had noticed that kids with communicative disorders often don’t get to participate in theatre, and she wanted to create the same sense of fun and community that neurotypical children experience.
The kids in the camp learn far more than their lines; they form relationships, instill a sense of responsibility and accountability, and boost their self-confidence. And when the play is put on, they’re not the only ones feeling great about themselves. Their parents are too.
about the camp and play.
Get strategies for communicating with students
on the spectrum [PDF].