The connection between Shakespeare & autism

What's the connection between autism and Shakespeare?

A new study is underway to see if Shakespearian plays can help kids with autism.

When it comes putting on plays, most elementary schools are more likely to choose Dr. Seuss over Shakespeare.

But this isn't just any production. All of these students struggle with autism.

But for some reason, researchers are finding, many respond to Shakespeare.

Dr. Marc Tassé, with Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center says, "It's quite amazing to see how a Shakespearian play can be transformed into, really, a therapeutic intervention."

It's an idea that actually began several years ago in London.

Kelly hunter, an actress with the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, started a program for kids with autism.

Her idea was to use the exaggerated voices and facial expressions of Shakespeare, to teach children who have trouble communicating.

Now, she's teaming up with researchers to see if there is some science behind her art.

Doctors will chart the students' progress for 42 weeks. But, already some kids are responding to Shakespeare, like they've never responded before.

Robin Post, with Ohio State University's Department of Theater says, "Some of these children have aides with them that are present to help out with whatever. And her aide was leaping up and down and in tears and, you know, it was really moving."

So far there are plenty of stories of success, but researchers want proof that it works, something they have seen glimpses of.

Dr Tassé says, "The first pilot study we saw some significant improvement in communication, significant improvement in social relationships."

Doctors say many kids with autism struggle with showing emotions.

By using Shakespearian plays, actors can teach kids how to express a wide range of emotions in a fun and non-clinical setting.

Print this article Back to Top