Erasmus+ KA02 Strategic Partnership project
Experiential Theater – alternative therapy for children with AUTISM and ASD
Project number: 2021-2-RO01-KA210-VET-000048819
(Duration: 31.05.2022 – 31.04.2023)
The project (2022-2023) involves two european organizations, active in the field of education and clinical services to support children with special needs.
ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a category of severe neurodevelopmental disorders that are defined by the DSM V as a persistent deficit in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts. It is manifested by a deficit in social-emotional reciprocity, a deficit in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interactions and a deficit in developing, maintaining and understanding relationships. It is characterized also by restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. These symptoms are present in the early developmental period and cause a clinically significant impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of current functioning (APA, 2013).
In the years, a wide collection of scientific literature claimed that some individuals with ASD can excel at creative activities, for example by having a superior memory for pitch and timbre in music (Janzen and Thaut, 2018). Even among those without such skills, the arts (and theater as a performing art as well) have been shown to have profound benefits: for example in socialization and communication (Campbell, 2010), in the expression, recognition, understanding and processing of emotions (De Vries, Beck, Stacey, Winslow and Meines, 2015), in reduction of anxiety through the improving of sociability and through providing stability and self-soothing when experiencing new situations (De Vries, Beck, Stacey, Winslow and Meines, 2015). Studies also found that role play and modelling through theater has been found to support the social engagement of children with ASD (Corbett, 2016; Mpella and Evaggelinou, 2018). Moreover, participation in arts can improve self-esteem, sense of self and confidence (Schweizer, Knorth and Spreen, 2014) as well as reducing victimization (Cook, Ogden and Winstone, 2018).
Experiential theater is a form of grounded intervention, already recognized and theorized, which can help children with ASD to understand and interact with physical and social phenomena that surround them by exposing them to a series of stimuli and activities especially selected to outline either a story or a concept adapted to their characteristics and needs.
Our project aims to shape and bring theater activities into the lives of children with ASD. One of the main focuses will be to adapt the activities in small groups and the environment to their needs, in order to provide them with experience and to improve the quality of life, socialization skills and interaction with the natural and social environment.
The main goal is to implement Pilot activities for groups of children and adolescents and to develop a guide for organizations that provide services for children and adolescents with ASD and their families. The Pilot programme will be implemented following the formation of a group of experts from each partner organization according to the results of a needs group analysis of the target group. The pilot activities will be based on the scientific literature available and on previous experiences. The Guide will contain, besides documents on previous experience and scientific literature on this theme, specific tools for professionals willing to develop these kinds of activities.
The concrete objectives are:
- Developing new professional skills and competences for experts in the field of alternative therapies for children who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by facilitating the access of international experience changes, open educational resources, alternative and innovative approaches
- Increasing the quality of services provided by partner institutions and other organizations in the field by initiating and developing a strategic international cooperation, by transferring and re-evaluating the approaches, strategies, educational and therapeutic methods used, by promoting professional development of human resources and by elaborating a new open educational resource.
The project is divided in the following actions:
- Transnational project meeting – Project Start Up (Iasi, june 2022)
- Short- term joined staff training eventi_Experiential Theater – Alternative therapy for ASD children (Reggio Emilia, august 2022)
- Experientia Theater – alternative therapy for children with AUTISM and ASD – Electronic Guide for organizations in the field which provides services to children with ASD and their families (Starting from September / October 2022)
- Experiential Theater – alternative therapy for children with AUTISM – Pilot testing (starting from September / October 2022)
- Multiplier Event (Italy)
- Multiplier Event (Romania)
- Transnational project meeting follow up
- Project management and implementation
- Electronic Guide for organizations.
- Experiential Theater – alternative therapy for children with AUTISM and ASD Electronic Guide for organizations in the field which provides services to children with ASD and their families.
- Experiential Theater – alternative therapy for children with AUTISM pilot testing.
Asociatia Suntem Diferiti (Coordinator)
707037 jud. Iasi, Romania
Progetto Crescere Soc. Coop. Soc (Partner)
17, Via Kennedy – 42124 Reggio Emilia, Italia
Phone: + 00390522934524