I attended a delightful workshop by Cindy B. Schneider called Acting Antics this week. My colleagues Tamara Pogin, fellow Speech Language Pathologist and two Acting Teachers, Ali Finstrom and Kate Horvath and I all took the hazardous journey three hours south to St. Paul, driving through a snow storm, slipping and sliding our way along, looking on anxiously every time we saw another car that had slid off to the side of the Freeway. Our trip was worth the effort.
We read Cindy's book, Acting Antics before we started our collaborative program, Stage Play Acting with our colleagues from the Duluth Playhouse Theater. We are already using several of Cindy's games and activities in Stage Play Acting Classes but as Cindy's experiential and highly active workshop got started, we immediately started adding activities mentally to the Stage Play curriculum. One of the things that we liked particularly about the workshop were the many games that Cindy demonstrated which involved many kids at one time. It is hard for our five to eight year old acting students to watch rather than participate and so we needed more games that involved only a little bit of watching and a lot of doing.
We did not need to be convinced that this was a good way to teach social skills--we were already convinced that acting classes may very well be the most effective context ever created for teaching social skills, at least for children who love being on stage. However, it was affirming to hear all the reasons why Cindy believes that this is a great context for teaching social skills. We intend to use everything she provided as we work to find funding for our program and sell the program to parents and other professionals in our area. It was also nice to hear how she adapts activities for a wide range of abilities since we have thus far only created a program that is appropriate for children who are verbal and who have some pretend play skills.
I invite readers who want to know more about using acting and theater to visit the Acting Antics Website and of course, you can watch our progress class by class on the Autism Games Website where we post what we are doing week-by-week at Stage Play Week by Week.