How Shakespearean Drama Boosted my Son’s Social Skills

What is Shakespearean Drama?

Shakespearean Drama is a drama play written by William Shakespeare. He is an English poet, playwright, and actor noted as one of the greatest writers in the English language.

His drama plays are classified into three genres, namely tragedy, history, and comedy. Most of them appeared in print as a series of quartos, which are smaller, and half the size of a book. They are translated into different languages and continually being performed all around the world.

Among his famous tragedy plays are Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and King Lear. Some of his famous comedy plays include The First Folio, Merchant of Venice, The Tempest and Twelfth Night. And lastly, his history plays includes Richard III and Henry V.  ( Credits from Wikipedia Shakespeare’s plays )

How does Shakespearean Drama help boost the social skills of children with autism?

Shakespearean Drama helps boost the social skills of autistic children in a variety of ways. It is effective, as any other therapeutic approaches for children with autism. In fact, participating in a drama play like Shakespearean drama is like having a therapy itself.

It is a combination of all of the following therapeutic approaches:

Speech and Language

Autistic verbal children are taught to speak their lines in English for a particular Shakespearean drama play utilizing the rhythm of the iambic pentameter.

Communication and Social Interaction

Verbal and non-verbal autistic children are both taught to communicate and socially express their emotions through imitating and acting out facial expressions of a student actor or mentor in a play. These will help verbal and non-verbal autistic children to identify and understand better the emotions of other people. These will also enable them to react appropriately in certain situations.

Behavioral

 Autistic children who are verbal are taught to concentrate and know their lines through constant repetition and memorization. They are also taught how to take turns through learning their scenes and the particular person whom they have to follow next.

Sensory and Gross Motor

Autistic children are taught proper body space and body language through different body motions including hand gestures and feet movements.

These are the ways on how autistic children can boost their social skills. Some of the techniques are based on Kelly Hunter’s Hunter Heartbeat Method, which helped many autistic children progress socially.

Henry V Drama Performance

felt the excitement inside me the moment I heard that it was time for my son’s school to perform in the Shakespeare School Festival drama play. Their Shakespeare drama play is entitled Henry V.

I was excited and at the same time nervous for it will be the first time for John to perform in front of an audience. The performance was held in Arts Depot, Finchley last  25th of November. I bought three tickets for my husband, my little daughter and myself.

My son has been practicing his performance at home and every Monday afternoons at school for almost a month. He told me that he has to memorize two lines in the script, which was quite easy to remember as long as he won’t feel nervous on the day of his performance.

His role was Montjoy, the French Herald who delivers messages to King Henry V.  I saw him practiced his lines at home without body movements and facial expressions.

But he was totally different on the actual day of his performance. I saw him interact socially with his peers with full body movements, eye contact, and facial expressions. He knew his lines and the time for his turn to speak. He was a totally different person on stage.

I felt his excitement to act and to internalize the character of Montjoy. Although a bit nervous, he managed to deliver the message to King Henry V in a high tone, which was enough for all of us to hear.

The battle scenes were done gracefully in slow motion. John’s body movements were synchronous with the background music.

John did his best and made us all proud. He proved to himself that he could act and blend well with his peers.

He enjoyed every bit of their performance and was looking forward to joining again for another Shakespearean drama play next year.

If you want to boost the social skills of your autistic child, try to enroll him in a Shakespearean drama club. You would be surprised of how fast your child could progress. And if you are looking for a wonderful book that will give you ideas on how to apply  Shakespearean drama by the use of sensory games to help your autistic child, you may want to buy Shakespeare’s Heartbeat.

Hope you find this post on how Shakespearean Drama boosted my son’s social skills useful. If you have any questions, suggestions, and recommendations, please feel free to leave your comments below.

Adel 🙂

 

 

6 thoughts on “How Shakespearean Drama Boosted my Son’s Social Skills

  1. This is amazing information, Adel! I never would have fathomed that Shakespearian plays would help autistic children with social skills, movement, gestures, voice projection, understanding emotional cues, facial expression, timing, taking turns, etc. And Kelly Hunter’s Heartbeat Method is most fascinating. I especially like the idea of using the iambic pentameter for switching gears from one activity to another. I think I will use it myself! Congratulations to you and your son for his performance as Montjoy! And congratulations to you for sharing this most important and fascinating information!

    1. Thank you, Rori. Shakespearean plays are a very effective in teaching emotions, improving concentration and developing social skills of children with autism. I saw how effective it was to my son and he loved and learned to enjoy it without being anxious in performing in front of a crowd. Yes, you can also use it yourself by buying Kelly Hunter’s book. There is a link that I posted Amazon. All the best!

  2. Wowww ! Really interesting to read. I keep in mind that ‘How Shakespearean Drama boosted your son’s Social Skills”. This approach reminds me the “psychodrame” therapeutic approach use in psychotherapy.

    The “psychodrame” approach is used to replay the situation of a client under a different point of view in a therapeutic environment. Your kid learned by imitation of their acting coach in a similar manner that a person in therapy learns by playing his role in a different way.

    I ‘ll certainly talk about it to my friend who has two autistic kids, and to one of my co-worker. I did share your story on my social network 🙂 Cheers, Jeff

    1. Drama is indeed a way of expressing emotions which gives a therapeutic effect both in psychotherapy and in boosting the social skills of autistic children.

      Thank you, Jeff, for supporting me in advocating autism awareness and understanding by sharing this article to your friends who have autistic children as well as sharing my story to your social media networks.
      You will be blessed! 🙂

  3. Another amazing avenue of involvement and development for autistic children!

    I can well imagine a sense of pride they enjoy, being able to slip into the role of a historical hero or a figure of renown.

    In this, a child can prove to him/herself that there is ability for integration, not only in an acting group, but in an honored aspect of the culture they are a part of…..

    Very fascinating indeed…..

    Thank you, Adel, for sharing this!

    Greetings,
    Therese

    1. You’re welcome,Therese. My son enjoyed playing the role of Montjoy and being a part of Shakespeare’s Henry V Performance. It is indeed a great experience for him performing in front of an audience. He did well and made us proud! 🙂

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