Theater Program May Benefit Children With ASD Catching the acting bug may help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) improve social abilities, finds a Vanderbilt University study of a theater program. Engaging in the social skills used in acting—expressing thoughts and emotions, listening, and interpreting—can be therapeutic for children with ASD, says Blythe Corbett, lead author of ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   December 01, 2015
Theater Program May Benefit Children With ASD
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   December 01, 2015
Theater Program May Benefit Children With ASD
The ASHA Leader, December 2015, Vol. 20, 18. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.20122015.18
The ASHA Leader, December 2015, Vol. 20, 18. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.20122015.18
Catching the acting bug may help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) improve social abilities, finds a Vanderbilt University study of a theater program.
Engaging in the social skills used in acting—expressing thoughts and emotions, listening, and interpreting—can be therapeutic for children with ASD, says Blythe Corbett, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Study participants who took part in the experimental program, called SENSE Theatre, displayed improved social abilities at the end of the program compared to those who did not participate.
“We measured many aspects of social ability and found significant treatment effects on social cognition, social interaction and social communication in youth with autism,” says Corbett, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and also an investigator at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, which supports developmental disability research, training and information dissemination.
Thirty children ages 8–14 were randomized into two different groups: 17 were enrolled in the program and 13 were assigned to a control group. The theater kids were paired with neurotypical peer actors, whom Corbett calls “expert models,” from the University School of Nashville.
At the end of the 10-week, 40-hour program, participants showed improved group play with toys with children outside the study, an increased ability to identify and remember faces, and better social communication and ability.
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December 2015
Volume 20, Issue 12