Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Drama and Autism

  • Carmel O’SullivanEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102102-1


I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.

Oscar Wilde (as cited in Corbett et al. 2011)

Drama interventions attempt to provide creative, enjoyable, and engaging opportunities for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to practice a wide range of social skills in the safety and protection of a workshop environment. Ranging from whole group to one-to-one settings, drama interventions operate on the basis of the creation of a fictional context (i.e., a pretend situation), which playfully captures the attention of the participants and encourages interaction and communication with others. Operating on a continuum, there are several different approaches to using drama as an intervention with people with ASD, varying from involvement in theater performance and working on play scripts at one end to improvisation and simulation at the other. Underpinning...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Reading

  1. Andersen-Warren, M. (2013). Drama therapy with children and young people who have autistic spectrum disorders: An examination of dramatherapists’ practices. Drama Therapy, 35(1), 3–19.Google Scholar
  2. Attwood, T. (2007). The complete guide to Asperger’s syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
  3. Bailey, S. (2010). Drama therapy. In K. Siri & T. Lyons (Eds.), Cutting edge therapies for Autism 2010–2011. New York: Skyhorse Publishing.Google Scholar
  4. Best, D. (1992). The rationality of feeling. Oxford: The Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  5. Boal, A. (2002). Games for actors and non-actors (2nd ed.) (trans: Jackson, A.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Bowell, P., & Heap, B. (2013). Planning process drama: Enriching teaching and learning (2nd ed.). Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Brockett, O. G., & Hildy, F. J. (2007). History of the theatre (10th ed.). London: Pearson.Google Scholar
  8. Brook, P. (1968). The empty space. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  9. Caldwell Cook, H. (1917). The play way. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  10. Carter, I., Munro, S., & Matin, S. (2013). Exploring autonomy in group work practice with persons with intellectual disabilities. Social Work With Groups, 36(2–3), 236–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Casson, J. (2004). Drama, psychotherapy and psychosis, dramatherapy and psychodrama with people who hear voices. East Sussex: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Casson, J. (2007). 17th century theatre therapy Shakespeare, Fletcher, Massinger, Middleton and Ford: Five Jacobean Healing Dramas. Dramatherapy, 29(1), 3–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chang, Y. C., Laugeson, E. A., Gantman, A., Ellingsen, R., Frankel, F., & Dillon, A. R. (2014). Predicting treatment success in social skills training for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: The UCLA Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills. Autism, 18(4), 467–470.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chasen, L. (2011). Social skills, emotional growth and drama therapy: Inspiring connection on the autism spectrum. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
  15. Conn, C. (2007). Using drama with children on the Autism spectrum. Brackley: Speechmark.Google Scholar
  16. Corbett, B. A., Gunther, J. R., Comins, D., Price, J., Ryan, N., Simon, D., Schupp, C. W., & Rios, T. (2011). Brief report: Theatre as therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41(4), 505–511.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Courtney, R. (1968). Play, drama & thought: The intellectual background to dramatic education. London: Cassell.Google Scholar
  18. Davis, D. (2014). Imagining the real: Towards a new theory of drama in education. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.Google Scholar
  19. Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Kappa Delta Pi.Google Scholar
  20. Dokter, D., & Winn, L. (2010). Evaluating dramatherapy. EBP and PBE: A research project. Dramatherapy, 31(1), 3–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Donovan, C. (2011). State of the art in assessing research impact. Research Evaluation, 20(3), 175–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dunne, L. (2009). Playing for real: Drama therapy, autism and an eight year old boy. In S. L. Brooke (Ed.), The use of creative therapies with autism spectrum disorders. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  23. Edmiston, B. (2014). Transforming teaching and learning with active and dramatic approaches. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Finlay-Johnson, H. (1912/2008). The dramatic method of teaching. London: Kessinger Publishing.Google Scholar
  25. Godfrey, E., & Haythorne, D. (2013). Benefits of dramatherapy for autism spectrum disorder: A qualitative analysis of feedback from parents and teachers of clients attending Roundabout dramatherapy sessions in schools. Dramatherapy, 35(1), 20–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Goldstein, S., & Naglieri, J. A. (Eds.). (2013). Interventions for autism spectrum disorders: Translating science into practice. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Goodley, D., & Runswick-Cole, K. (2011). Something in the air? Creativity, culture and community. Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 16(1), 75–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Guli, L. A., Wilkinson, A. D., & Semrud-Clikeman, M. (2008). Social competence intervention program: A drama-based intervention for youth on the autism spectrum. Champaign: Research Press.Google Scholar
  29. Guli, L. A., Semrud-Clikeman, M., Lerner, M. D., & Britton, N. (2013). Social Competence Intervention Program (SCIP): A pilot study of a creative drama program for youth with social difficulties. Arts in Psychotherapy, 40(1), 37–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hodermarska, M. (2013). Autism as performance. Drama Therapy and Autism Spectrum (Special Issue), 35(1), 64–76.Google Scholar
  31. Jennings, S. (1982). Remedial drama. London: Adam and Charles Black.Google Scholar
  32. Jennings, S. (1987). Creative therapy. Banbury: Kemble Press.Google Scholar
  33. Jennings, S. (2011). Play and story attachment assessment (PASAA). Drama Therapy, 33(1), 45–57.Google Scholar
  34. Johnson, L., & O’Neill, C. (1984). Dorothy heathcote: Collected writings on education and drama. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  35. Jones, P. (2007). Drama as therapy: Theory practice and research. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Jones, P. (2012). Approaches to the futures of research Part 2: Measure for measures, researching, re-viewing and re-framing drama therapy in practice. Dramatherapy, 34(3), 116–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kaat, A. J., & Lecavalier, L. (2014). Group-based social skills treatment: A methodological review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8, 15–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kempe, A., & Tissot, C. (2012). The use of drama to teach social skills in a special school setting for students with autism. British Journal of Learning Support, 27(3), 97–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kirby, A. V., Dickie, V. A., & Baranek, G. T. (2014). Sensory experiences of children with autism spectrum disorder: In their own words. Autism, 19, 316.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Langley, D. (2006). An introduction to drama therapy. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  41. Lerner, M. D., & Mikami, A. Y. (2012). A preliminary randomized controlled trial of two social skills interventions for youth with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 27, 147–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lerner, M. D., Mikami, A. Y., & Levine, K. (2011). Socio-dramatic affective-relational intervention for adolescents with Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism: Pilot study. Autism, 15(1), 21–42.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Livanis, A., Benvenuto, S., Mertturk, A., & Hanthorn, C. A. (2013). Treatment integrity in autism spectrum disorder interventions. In S. Goldstein & J. A. Naglieri (Eds.), Interventions for autism spectrum disorders: Translating science into practice (pp. 19–38). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Loer, J. M. (2012, Apr 17). Theatre and therapy? The Twain Meet (Via Twain). American Theatre,.Google Scholar
  45. Loyd, D. (2013a). Gaining views from pupils with Autism about their participation in drama classes. British Journal of Learning Disabilities. doi:10.1111/bld.12078.Google Scholar
  46. Loyd, D. (2013b). Obtaining consent from young people with autism to participate in research. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41(2), 133–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mandelberg, J., Frankel, F., Cunningham, T., Gorospe, C., & Laugeson, E. A. (2014). Long-term outcomes of parent-assisted social skills intervention for high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism, 18(3), 255–263.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mandell, J. (2013, May/June). The circle of inclusion. American Theater, 66–69.Google Scholar
  49. Moreno, J. L. (1939). Psychodramatic shock therapy: A sociometric approach to the problem of mental disorders. Sociometry, 2(1), 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Moreno, J. L. (1983). The theatre of spontaneity. Ambler: Beacon House Inc.Google Scholar
  51. Müller, E., Schuler, A., & Yates, G. B. (2008). Social challenges and supports from the perspective of individuals with Asperger syndrome and other autism spectrum disabilities. Autism, 12(2), 173–190.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nelson, A. (2010). Foundation role plays for autism. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  53. O’Sullivan, C. (2011). Role-playing. In L. Cohen, L. Manion, & K. Morrison (Eds.), Research methods in education (7th ed., pp. 510–527). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. O’Sullivan, C. (2014). The Day that Shrek was almost rescued: Doing process drama with children with an autism spectrum disorder. In P. Duffy (Ed.), What was I thinking: A reflective practitioner’s guide to (Mis)adventures in drama education. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  55. O’Sullivan, C., McKernan, D., O’Halloran, S., & Rowland, J. (2009). Asperger syndrome: A practical guide for parents, teachers, young people and other professionals. [2 hour DVD]. Dublin: Aspire.Google Scholar
  56. O’Sullivan, C., McNulty, U., Conroy, L., Walsh, A., & McKernan, D. (2010). Asperger syndrome and social skills education through creative drama. In D. Lyons (Ed.), Creative studies for the caring professions (pp. 178–189). Dublin: Gill and McMillan.Google Scholar
  57. O’Sullivan, C., Boran, L., & Delany, D. (2012). A study of the role of drama in developing social versus physical attribution abilities in children on the autistic spectrum. In Borders and translations: Towards new paradigms and languages in drama education, IDIERI (the International Drama in Education Research Institute), University of Limerick, 10–15 July.Google Scholar
  58. Oliver, M. (1992). Changing the social relations of research production. Disability, Handicap and Society, 7(2), 101–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pimpas, I. (2013). A psychological perspective to dramatic reality: A path for emotional awareness in autism. Dramatherapy, 35(1), 57–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Portman Minne, E., & Semrud-Clikeman, M. (2012). A social competence intervention for young children with high functioning autism and Asperger syndrome: A pilot study. Autism, 16(6), 586–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ramamoorthi, P., & Nelson, A. (2011). Drama education for individuals on the autism spectrum. In S. Schonmann (Ed.), Key concepts in theatre/drama education (pp. 177–181). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Russell-Smith, S., Murray, M., Bayliss, D., & Sng, A. (2012). Support for a link between the local processing bias and social deficits in autism: An investigation of embedded figures test performance in non-clinical individuals. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 42(11), 2420–2430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Sappok, T., Budczies, J., Dziobek, I., Bölte, S., Dosen, A., & Diefenbacher, A. (2014). The missing link: Delayed emotional development predicts challenging behavior in adults with intellectual disability. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 44(4), 786–800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schneider, C. B. (2007). Acting antics. A theatrical approach to teaching social understanding to kids and teens with asperger syndrome. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
  65. Schrader, C. (2012). Ritual theatre, the power of dramatic ritual in personal development groups and clinical practice. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
  66. Shaughnessy, N. (2013). Imagining otherwise: Autism, neuroaesthetics and contemporary performance. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 38(4), 321–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sherratt, D., & Peter, M. (2002). Developing play and drama in children with autistic spectrum disorders. London: David Fulton.Google Scholar
  68. Silverman, T. (2006). Drama therapy theoretical perspectives. In S. L. Brooke (Ed.), Creative arts therapies manual (pp. 223–231). Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  69. Slade, P. (1954). Child drama. London: Hodder & Stoughton.Google Scholar
  70. Taylor, P., & Warner, C. (2006). Structure and spontaneity: The process drama of Cecily O’Neill. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.Google Scholar
  71. Trimingham, M. (2013). Touched by meaning: Haptic effect in autism. In N. Shaughnessy (Ed.), Affective performance and cognitive science: Body, brain and being. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  72. Trowsdale, J., & Hayhow, R. (2013). Can mimetics, a theatre-based practice, open possibilities for young people with learning disabilities? A capability approach. British Journal of Special Education, 40(2), 72–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Vickers, S. (2005). Drama scripts for people with special needs: Inclusive drama for PMLD, autistic spectrum and special needs group. London: Speechmark.Google Scholar
  74. Vygotsky, L. V. (1978). Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Wilmer-Barbrook, C. (2013). Adolescence, Asperger’s and acting: Can drama therapy improve social and communication skills for young people with Asperger’s syndrome? Dramatherapy, 35(1), 43–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wolfberg, P., Bottema-Beutel, K., & DeWitt, M. (2012). Including children with autism in social and imaginary play with typical peers. Integrated play groups model. American Journal of Play, 5(1), 55–80.Google Scholar
  77. Zeisel, J. (2011). Letter and petition to President Obama, ‘I’m still here’. Retrieved Apr 2014 from www.huffingtonpost.com/john-zeisel-phd/dementia-obama_b_933599.html

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trinity College, University of DublinDublinIreland