Theater ed in social skill teaching

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Registered: 04-07-2002
Theater ed in social skill teaching
Tue, 03-19-2013 - 4:07pm

Folks, I don't post here often, but for those of you who don't know me, I am a music teacher who is on the spectrum (Asperger's).  I have a question for you that I am not sure anyone on the Teacher board can answer (No drama teachers there.  Some SPED, but they have less of a chance of knowing this one).

I know there has been some support from research of theater instruction helping with social skills.  I wonder, "Why?"  As a music teacher, I am as big a fan of the fine arts as you will ever find, theater, isn't what you are doing pretending to be something you are not?  And this, in all of the traditional rhetoric about being yourself?  Could you all tell me what drama does for your kids?

While we are at it, anyone ever teach their kids to play poker?  That is a game that requires some very complicated social behavior to win, and while I'm an Aspie, I used to love the challenge of it.  I was a winner, too.  (Never went to Vegas, don't want the pressure of high rolling.  I played for pennies or no-value poker chips.)

In closing, I say, not only do Aspies need these activities (if they help), but if they do help, ALL kids need them.  No one ever talks about the social skills of the popular bullies who run a world where it is not OK to be different.  If what my education profs said about social skills is true, then, Aspies actually do it better than popular kids (after all, we are famous for our razor-sharp senses of right and wrong!)

I ramble, but what do you guys think?


Beth "Petrouchka"

Avatar for ubergeek
Community Leader
Registered: 09-23-2010
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 5:04pm

Hi Beth!

While my son is not autistic, he does present with asperger tendencies. One of his biggest issues is socialization, or rather, appropriate socialization. (He's labeled language/learning communication disabled.) We, at home and in school, have lots of social stories where they will (and we will) act out scenarios to get him to better understand situations. With that said, I can see where he would be confused if he had to pretend for a role, unless it was of the fantasy nature, e.g., Cats, Lion King, The Wizard of Oz. If it is based off of real life OR a situation that could happen in real life, the confusion between right and wrong would come into play (i.e., if your character is supposed to stab someone, he won't understand why it's ok in character but not IRL). Again, this is my son and his abilities. 

I also know that in his class, which is a mixture of multi-disabilities, including high-functioning autistic children, most—if not all—are VERY literal and I, again, can't see them making sense of pretending to be someone else. 

I also have a toddler and it's amazing to see the difference between he and she. She is 21 months and pretends to be this and that, while at almost 12, my son still doesn't understand the concept of pretending to be <insert animal>. 

No poker here, just because he's awful at lying, lol! He'd never be able to pull off a bluff. He doesn't understand what a secret is, so he'd be telling everyone what he has and so on. ;)