Preventing (and managing) behaviour difficulty for children with ASD – A course in using the 5P Approach

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Linda Miller (author of Practical Behaviour Management Solutions for Children and Teens with Autism Developing Flexibility Skills in Children and Teens with Autism) is leading a one-day course in using her 5P approach.

Date: Monday 27th June 2016

Time: 9.15am-3.30pm

Venue: The British Psychological Society London Offices
30 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4UE
(Close to Liverpool St, Moorgate & Old Street underground Stations)

Course Fee (includes lunch):
– £155 per delegate (reduction to £140 for multiple bookings)
– Parents & carers: £130 pp

EARLY BOOKING DISCOUNT FOR BOOKINGS BEFORE 22nd APRIL – £125 pp

For more info go to www.5papproach.co.uk

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Attachment, schools and vulnerable children: An interview with Nicola Marshall.

Nicola Marshall is a certified coach, adoptive parent of three, and author of the newly published The Teacher’s Introduction to Attachment. We spoke to her about why she wanted to write a book on attachment for teachers, what she’s learned since starting her own training company for teachers and other school staff, and she shares her number one tip for educators working with vulnerable children. 

1) How did you become interested in attachment?

My husband and I adopted three children 6 years ago now and I became interested in attachment as a result of trying to understand the impact my children’s early years experience has had on them. Throughout the adoption journey Attachment was mentioned and it fascinated me to know that so much of what we do in our adult lives is a result of our early experiences. I’ve always believed this actually, as someone who has always been interested in people and how they tick, to know that how we build relationships comes from much of our early experiences made sense.

Since looking into attachment I can see how important all our relationships are and it’s a constant journey of discovery.

2) Why did you decide to write a book on attachment for teachers?Marshall_Teachers-Introd_978-1-84905-550-5_colourjpg-print

There are many books available on Attachment and I’ve read quite a few of them. They are brilliant in lots of ways but I also have found that they can be quite heavy and time intensive. If you are really interested in the subject, as I am, then there are brilliant books to further your understanding such as Bruce Perry or Dan Hughes books.

However whilst doing training for schools and other people working with children I have found that there’s a reluctance to read some of the more academic books on the subject. As a parent and a down to earth person myself I felt there was a gap in the market for a book that was accessible to all teaching staff, whether they are time pressured or just not that interested in the subject. This book is an easy to read, practical and very accessible and my desire is that anyone and everyone working with children of any description would read this and find it helpful.

 3) You run training programmes to help educate teachers and other school staff about attachment – what have you learned whilst doing this?

I have loved training educators over the last three years in this subject. The people who attend the courses are so dedicated and committed to the children they serve that it has been an inspiration to me. I have seen that many are under immense pressure to get children to learn who are just not ready to learn. The pressures on resources, funding and time are creating a system that seems to be a hindrance to vulnerable children out there who need patience, time and nurture given to them in order that they can learn.

Through the workshops and onsite training I’ve run and the hundreds of educators I’ve spoken to I can see that this is a vocation – you have to have a calling to be an educator as what you want to do and what you’re allowed to do many times don’t match up. I wish our educational system was more flexible as I know it’s not for want of trying on the front-line staffs side – they understand that we need a different approach with some children, that we need to be their parent, carer, therapist and social worker sometimes as the adults they meet at school may be all they have.

4) Can you think of a case study or example of having school staff educated in attachment, which has led to direct benefits for a child or group of children?

I can think of many schools and particularly children who have benefited from more of an awareness of Attachment. A few spring to mind. One child who is from a very small, rural school – his teacher came on my workshop a few years ago, the training impacted her and it helped her to understand his behaviours. However it didn’t seem enough. So this year I was asked to go and observe the child in school and to give some recommendations on what practical strategies they could use to help him. After two days we sat down with the parent of this child and discussed what had been observed. It was great to see that for that parent it was so important to know that someone could see the anxieties and fears her child was desperately trying to hide. We talked about practical ways to build relationships with him and to help him feel safe. As a result I am sure he will flourish in that very nurturing and caring school.

More locally to me, a High School have taken on the challenge of really trying to understand a complex child in year 8 who has an ambivalent attachment. Many of the schools sanctions do not work for this child and in fact send her on a spiral of negative behaviours as a result. With training and talking with the parents the school are using different strategies to try and help her feel safe and to take control of her regulation, so that she can settle to learn. The result of this for the child is that she can start to learn in school instead of just surviving but also the staff members are happier as they don’t have to keep enforcing sanctions that do not work. Finally, this child is not distracting the other children in the class, so they can learn too.

5) What would be your number one tip for teachers or other staff working with vulnerable children?

Look beneath the behaviours to the root. All behaviour communicates something. For children who have experienced early trauma their behaviours very often are how they express themselves. They are not ‘naughty’ children trying to manipulate. They are frightened, anxious children who will use any means at their disposal to feel safe and get their needs met. When you can see that and truly appreciate that then you can begin to meet their needs and the behaviour will change in time.

 You can find out more about Nicola’s book here.  You can also find out more about her training company, BraveHeart Education, and the work they do training educators in attachment and its implications for the classroom, here 

Special Educational Needs and Pastoral Education Autumn 2014

Browse our latest collection of titles in special educational needs and pastoral education. For more information on any of the books inside, simply click the title or cover image to view the full book page.

Teaser Tuesday-Requirements for Being a “Parent” as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA)

The Comprehensive Guide to Special Education Law by George A. Giuliani is a detailed yet accessible introduction to federal law as it applies to the rights of children with special needs. Written in a user-friendly question and answer format, the book covers all of the key areas of special education law including parental rights of participation, the legal right to Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and related services, and the complex issues of discipline and dispute resolutions.

Who is a “parent” as defined under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA)?

Perhaps the most important element afforded under IDEIA is the right to parental participation at almost all stages of the special education process. To increase the odds that each child has a parent in the special education process, IDEIA does define the term “parent” but does so in a broad way. Under IDEIA, a “parent” means:

  1. A biological (natural) or adoptive parent of a child
  2. A foster parent, unless State law, regulations, or contractual obligations with a State or local entity prohibit a foster parent from acting as a parent
  3. A guardian generally authorized to act as the child’s parent, or authorized to make educational decisions for the child (but not the State if the child is a ward of the State)
  4. An individual acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent (including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative) with whom the child lives, or an individual who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare, or
  5. A surrogate parent who has been appointed in accordance with 34 C.F.R. 300.519.

Download the Requirements for Being a “Parent” extract here.

Dr. George Giuliani works at Hofstra University, Long Island, where he is an Associate Professor at the School of Education, Health and Human Services and former Director of the graduate school program in Special Education. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Hofstra University’s School of Law where he teaches the course, Special Education Law. Dr. Giuliani is the Executive Director of The National Association of Special Education Teachers, Executive Director of the American Academy of Special Education Professors, and President of the National Association of Parents with Children in Special Education. He has written many books on special education and he is a consultant for school districts and early childhood agencies. He resides in Melville, New York.

Teaser Tuesday – Downloadable ‘Mini-Maps’ to Encourage Task Analysis for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Visual Supports for Visual Thinkers is an essential resource of easy-to-use ideas for mainstream and special education teachers. Packed with simple, effective tools to assist in the education of students, the book can be adapted to be used with young children and older learners with a Rogers_Visual-Supports_978-1-84905-945-9_colourjpg-webrange of educational needs, including nonverbal learners.

‘Mini-maps’ help students with autism spectrum disorders organize big chunks of the day into smaller more manageable parts to promote understanding and encourage predictability of upcoming activities.

Why mini-maps are effective:

  • Task analysis is one of the teaching techniques included in ABA.
  • Task analysis is a process by which a task is broken down into its essential or component parts.
  • Students with autism and other special needs benefit from a task analysis in order to complete tasks that seem unclear or overwhelming.
  • Breaking a task down into smaller chunks visually, incorporating interests and breaks incrementally, works to inform and motivate the student toward the desired outcome.
  • Mini-maps support student understanding and promote independence.

Mini-maps can be created to support any part of a student’s day, in the classroom and at home, including specific tasks and daily transitions. Each map includes photographs of the steps in the sequence to help the student visualize and clarify the process. The student’s interests are incorporated to increase motivation and decrease stress.

This resource is designed to be accessible to all and can be used by teachers, professionals and parents.

Download sample mini-maps here

Visual Supports for Visual Thinkers: Practical Ideas for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Special Educational Needs by Lisa Rogers is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Positive Psychology: The secret to leading a happy life for young people?

As the UK government announces that all state-funded academies will now have ‘well-being’ at the heart of their curriculum, Ruth MacConville and Tina Rae, authors of the new book, Building Happiness, Resilience and Motivation in Adolescents, discuss the impact of Positive Psychology on young people.

Photos: (left to right) Ruth MacConville and Tina Rae


What makes Positive Psychology a suitable approach for using with groups of teenagers?

RM: Over the past few years there has been an increasing demand for resources and materials that practitioners can use in schools and settings to enhance young people’s well-being. This demand has been partly in response to the previous government’s Every Child Matter’s agenda, but also because over the past decade the new science of Positive Psychology has caught the public’s imagination. Part of its appeal is its accessibility and because its agenda; happiness, well-being and human flourishing relates to and enhances the day-to-day business of everyday life. Positive Psychology offers young people the tools that they will need to design their futures in an uncertain world and offers them a sense of hope and resilience. Boosting the frequency of positive emotions is like boosting the frequency of deposits to one’s bank account – it feels good and it also means that when you have an emotional low and need a resilience withdrawal, you’ve got something to draw on.

TR: Boosting resilience via the use of Positive Psychology can innoculate against depression and other mental illnesses – it can also build self-confidence and achievement. This is particularly pertinent and important for children and adolescents who are coping with immense change and encountering enormous pressures in today’s complex society. Resilient children can ‘resist adversity, cope with uncertainty and recover more successfully from traumatic events or episodes’. Psychologists have long recognised that some children develop well despite growing up in high risk environments. This capacity to cope with adversity, and even be strengthened by it, is at the heart of resilience. It is not something that people either have or don’t have – resilience is learnable and teachable and as we learn we increase the range of strategies available to us when things get difficult.

We can do this by supporting teenagers to make sense of experience, to utilise constructive self-talk, develop mastery and self-efficacy, develop emotional literacy, and ‘happiness habits’, problem solving approaches and challenging and reframing negative perceptions of self.

What kind of strengths is it intended to build?

RM: The programme focuses on the kind of skill based learning that young people will require in order to develop the skills that they need. These are life skills and ones which cannot be underestimated. The resources aim to take what psychologists have learned from the science and practice of treating mental illness and use this to create a series of resources which foster happiness, resilience and motivation.

TR: The powerful message that is conveyed throughout the programme to young people is that with practise, persistence, effective teaching and dedication, strengths can take root and flourish in all of us. Another important messages to young people is that they have choices when it comes to strengths. They can decide whether they want to have a particular strength, develop it further and use that strength. Young people learn that playing to one’s strengths is recognised as being the best way to handle challenging situations and by learning how to recognise and use one’s strengths creatively we can increase our happiness and experience joy and enthusiasm.

How do adolescents respond to the programme?

RM: Education is all about our strengths, finding out what we are good at and building our level of skill in those areas. Adolescents take varying amount of time to respond to the programme, some students quickly internalise the message that the programme is about them as individuals and as human beings, that it is not about facts or a subject area that is somewhat removed from them. Other students, inevitably, take longer to adapt to the programme with its emphasis on their real life experiences.

Although students may take varying amounts of time to respond to the programme there is invariably a consensus by the end of the sessions that it has improved their relationships, put individuals in touch with their strengths, interests and abilities and built students’ capacities to have an optimistic outlook on life and manage stress and adversity.

Tina, you have been involved in setting up the Well-being Curriculum for the Welsh National Assembly – can you tell us about this? Why do you think that interest in Positive Psychology has increased so much over the past 10 years?

TR: The concept of emotional health and well-being is integral to the seven core aims of the Welsh Assembly Government’s vision for children and young people, based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – that they:

  1. have a flying start in life;
  2. have a comprehensive range of education and learning opportunities;
  3. enjoy the best possible health and are free from abuse, victimisation and exploitation;
  4. have access to play, leisure, sporting and cultural activities;
  5. are listened to, treated with respect, and have their race and cultural identity recognised;
  6. have a safe home and a community which supports physical and emotional wellbeing; and
  7. are not disadvantaged by poverty.

This concept is an essential consideration in many current Welsh Assembly Government policies impacting on pre-school and school-aged children.

The programme makes use of a range of tools to help young people remain emotionally and physically well and these include some of the tools of Positive Psychology.

Finally, what do you think is the secret to living a happy life?

RM: For me the secret to living a happy life is about depth of involvement with family and friends, and I agree with the 17th century philosopher Francis Bacon who wrote: ‘Friendship, redoubleth joys and cutteth griefs in half.’

Happiness is also about engaging in purposeful satisfying activities. For me happiness isn’t just a hedonic, pleasurable state such as enjoying fun leisure activities. It’s a richer, more complicated and more important subject than chasing pleasures. It’s about finding ways of leading a meaningful life, even if that meaning involves times of pain and challenge. The late Irish writer and social commentator, Nuala o’Faolain, uses the analogy of athleticism to illustrate the fact that, with effort, people we can change our happiness levels:

‘If you were a runner in the starting blocks at the Olympics you wouldn’t be waiting for inspiration; you would have trained. Well, we have to train for happiness and practice every day.’

I believe that we have to train ourselves in the skills of becoming happier.

It is also important to remember that we all must own our individual happiness. Being dependent on others for our happiness is as futile as being dependent on others for our unhappiness. It is important to be able to recognise that there are things in life we can’t control, and to not let the actions or inactions of others get in the way of our happiness.

Also it is important to remember that nobody can be happy all the time. It is absolutely normal and even helpful to have periods of sadness, as this is part of a healthy, emotional existence. It is also important not to feel badly because something upsetting happens and puts you in a bad mood. The important thing is how fast you can get through that mood and get into a more positive space.

TR: I think it is essential to recognise that lasting happiness requires us to enjoy the journey towards a destination that is truly meaningful for us…it must have a purpose. Happiness isn’t about getting to the top of the mountain! As Tal Ben-Shahar says: ‘Happiness is the experience of climbing towards the peak.’

Ultimately, we make a choice to be happy! For me, it really is as simple as that. In making that choice, we choose to live in the moment or, as Robert Burns says, ‘to catch the moments as they fly’. We also need to continually value, prize and highlight all the good and positive aspects of our lives, to engage in the rituals and celebrations that affirm our existence and that of others, to cherish the relationships that nurture and engage in learning and the flow of creativity. We need to reject this fairytale notion that there is something or someone that will carry us off to a happy ever after! Again, I will quote Ben-Shahar:

‘To realize, to make real, life’s potential for the ultimate currency, we must first accept that “this is it” – that all there is to life is the day-to-day, the ordinary, the details of the mosaic. We are living a happy life when we derive pleasure and meaning while spending time with our loved ones, or learning something new, or engaging in a project at work. The more our days are filled with these experiences, the happier we become. This is all there is to it.’

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

VIDEO – Mindfulness Play: Reaching students on a deeper level, with Deborah Plummer

In this series of videos, Deborah Plummer discusses the careful construction of the emotional environment in which the games and activities in her existing books are undertaken, which she calls ‘mindfulness play’, and which is discussed more comprehensively in her forthcoming book, Focusing and Calming Games for Children.

A short introduction to mindfulness play
Here, Deborah gives an overview of her approach and some examples of what mindfulness play looks like in practice and how to achieve it.

The wellbeing model underlying mindfulness play approach
Here, Deborah uses the imagery of a house to explain the wellbeing model that underlies her mindfulness play approach.

Top Tips for facilitating mindfulness play
Here, Deborah gives her top tips for ensuring that the games and activities used with children have their emotional wellbeing at heart.

How to set up a space for mindfulness play
Here, Deborah gives some advice on how to set up a play space that conveys a sense of respect for children, a vital consideration in mindfulness play.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

Little Volcanoes: Helping Young Children and Their Parents to Deal with Anger – An Interview with Warwick Pudney

Warwick Pudney is a social ecologist and relationship therapist who has spent the last 25 years working with men, couples and families in New Zealand. He specializes in the areas of anger, abusive behaviour, men’s welfare and parenting. He is a lecturer at AUT University in Auckland and writes and gives workshops and training courses in his chosen fields.

His new book, Little Volcanoes, offers strategies to combat negative feelings and minimize outbursts, and even provides a selection of poems and stories to help adults pass on the lessons of the book to children.

In this interview, Warwick explains why it is essential that children learn to deal with anger from a very young age, and provides some helpful advice for parents and other adults about their own behaviour.


You have previously written a popular book about anger in children called A Volcano in My Tummy. Tell us about your new book, Little Volcanoes – co-written with primary school teacher and novelist, Éliane Whitehouse – and who it is for.

Volcano in my Tummy was a more general book about children’s anger. We soon realised that a more specialist book for under 5’s was needed. My work with early childhood educators and with families convinces me there are a number of issues that could be looked at that would greatly assist young children. If constructive patterns of responding to children are formed and if assistance is given earlier to our children, we would have much better ways of dealing with anger as older children and later as adults. The book is aimed at professionals but in a way that parents can also easily pick up and read.

 Little Volcanoes focuses specifically on anger in young children. How does the experience of trying to help young children with their anger differ from helping older children?

Younger children have a much better chance to learn how to handle anger and do so easier. The formative years are really what we need to target. Giving young children simple but powerful words to express anger and hurt means many will have fewer problems with anger than older children, so as professionals we need to have a dual target for behavioural change. It’s also important for the young child to really get that ‘abusive behaviour is not OK’. Learning that 20 years later in a courtroom or through a painful break-up is so much harder on the person and society.

In the book there’s also some specialist information around early childhood issues like tantrums and working with boys.

Do you think that adults’ responses to anger in younger children differ from those when responding to older children?

Adults are more likely to disregard young children’s anger because they can more easily ignore it or tell the child to not be angry or to go to their room. When they are older, children or adolescents may be less inclined to comply with such demands and also they may channel ten years of ignored anger simply because they weren’t respected and allowed expression and because they are now bigger and so they can!

In the book, you describe anger as an empowering force. How can it be a good thing?

We all are born with a set of emotions that each have a use for the good of our lives. Anger is there to protect us when things go wrong, when there is injustice, and when we feel disempowered. Take that away and you have a very vulnerable, dependant person who needs another person capable of feeling anger for them.

You stress the key role of parents within the book, and are particularly interested in the role of the father. Tell us why this is, and the role the father plays.

Parents shape children’s behaviour. This behaviour needs to be shaped in a secure and trusting atmosphere that parents provide. Listening hard to children and, especially with young children, figuring out what they mean or what the real issue is, is so important to their feeling that they have a voice and are safe and the world is fair. Boundaries and regulation can then take place in an atmosphere where the child wants to do a thing due to the respect and love they have for the parent. Research clearly shows that fathers are vital to this, not just as an equal parent but for the differences that they bring. Fathers tend to be more firm on boundaries and reassuring to the ways boys think. Males tend to get more social permission to express anger. They provide male models of how to handle anger and conflict and have respectful differences.

You also write about the impact of society on young children’s behaviour. What kind of environmental factors can contribute to angry behaviour in young children?

Children are never angry about nothing. It stands to reason that if they feel angry then we should listen to them and help them deal with it. They have a clear set of needs that vary: from food and warmth, to love and affirmation; or the need may be as simple as the fact that ‘Ann has taken my favourite pens and won’t give them back’ or ‘Stephen had more than me’. All of these are things worth getting angry about if you are four. If their environment is not supplying them with coping strategies then there is a consequence and anger as the survival emotion kicks in. Our families and homes and society have a responsibility to provide support – otherwise someone has a right to feel angry. That doesn’t mean that we always get what we want; an important lesson in life is dealing with not getting what we want. Good anger management helps us know when to let go. Having Dad’s support in getting the pens back (or coping with their loss) is as important to a four year old as crossing the road safely.

A child’s behaviour is inextricably linked with that of their parents. Tell us about the book’s coverage of working with parents as well as the child.

Kids don’t learn disrespect from nowhere. Parents model good anger expression, listening, talking and respect. Often not only do parents not know that they may be doing something that may cause some anger in their children now or later, but they may need some training to parent in a different way.  The book goes through a number of parenting patterns that are not so helpful and suggests helpful ones – for example: promoting consistency; giving affirmations; and looking to other adults, not children, to get a parent’s own needs met.

What are some examples of the kind of advice you give to professionals faced with a young child who is exhibiting angry behaviour?

  • Listen, listen, listen! Empathy dissipates anger.
  • Ask what’s behind the anger. What’s the disempowerment?
  • Then ask them how they would like to fix the problem – generate a plan. You may have to help them with this and with a young child you may need to do the fixing.
  • If there is destructive or disrespectful behaviour then set boundaries and consequences and keep to them.

How do you hope children will be helped by this book?

They will get clarity about what acceptable behaviour is and isn’t, and they will learn to keep within the boundaries set out for them. They will learn to get what they need without hurting others. And they will also learn that anger is OK and they’ll learn to not be so frightened of it. It’s normal and we all have it.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

Professor Joyce Lishman introduces the latest title in the JKP Research Highlights in Social Work series

Professor Joyce Lishman was previously Head of the School of Applied Social Studies, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK. She was also General Editor of the Research Highlights in Social Work series for many years.

Here, she introduces readers to her new book, Social Work Education and Training.


I have been associated with Research Highlights (RH) for 30 years since I became Acting Editor of the first series. I negotiated the change of publisher to JKP, so I am really proud of my long connection with an independent publisher who has blossomed and remained kind to editors and authors.

The latest volume of RH (number 54) is called Social Work Education and Training – a topical and debated issue in the UK where social work education and the practice and organisation of social work are highly political and contested. The volume addresses the need to demonstrate that social work education is preparing students, new entrants to the profession, for this changing and ambiguous context, but uses a research and evidence base to underpin it. The volume examines the evaluation of social work education and the wider perspective of Europe with its added social pedagogy perpective. It also examines teaching and learning in ethics, analytic reflective thinking, evidence-based practice, IT and practice learning, and addresses critical tensions between education and training, in terms of generalist and specialist education. A major issue for Social Work Education historically has been a lack of a detailed research base and, in drawing together this volume, we demonstrate both the evidence and the gaps.

I hope that for any reader this volume engages them in honest debate about the future of social work education and training in the context of the political uncertainty about future policy and practice. I hope they will be encouraged to think from an ethical, analytic, reflective and research base (no mean task!) about how we should develop social work and social care and the education and training involved.

I have worked in Social Work Education for 25 years and am pleased with the changes I have seen: more integration of knowledge, theory and practice; more involvement of service users and carers; more use of an evidence base and much more focus on outcomes. The series and this latest book represent my long-term commitment to evaluating social work and demonstrating outcomes.  Now that I have retired, I shall miss this work and am open to new opportunities to engage with the agenda.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2011.

JKP Authors Andrew Nelson and Cindy Schneider share Autism-Theatre Techniques with specialists from Hong Kong

By Andrew Nelson, author of Foundation Role Plays for Autism: Role Plays for Working with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Parents, Peers, Teachers, and Other Professionals

Fellow JKP author Cindy Schneider (Acting Antics: A Theatrical Approach to Teaching Social Understanding to Kids and Teens with Asperger Syndrome) and I have been colleagues and friends for over three years now. We met at the Autism Society of America (ASA) Conference in 2008 and immediately began collaborating on national autism-theatre projects along with other specialists from around the world.

Very early on in our friendship and collaboration we identified a mutual interest in training other autism-theatre practitioners in a “summer institute” style workshop. We wanted to offer thorough training in the theories and techniques used by autism-theatre artists and educators, and to give participants hands-on experience applying new skills with actors on the autism spectrum. This summer, in late July, our dream was realized.

One year ago, a mutual friend of ours contacted me about autism-theatre training for a group of autism specialists from Hong Kong. Mandu James YC Cheung and his wife, Dr. Eva Lai, had previously collaborated with Cindy and me on a project called “Actors in Action” at the ASA Conference. Mandu and Eva asked if I could arrange for a group of six autism professionals from the Caritas organization to come study somewhere in the US. I immediately contacted Cindy and plans were soon underway.

Our new friends from Hong Kong arrived on a Friday afternoon and we immediately dove into an intensive autism-theatre training.

For three days Cindy, myself, and our new partner Chris Nealy demonstrated a variety of activities from books and from our work over the years.

One of my favorite theatrical tools is the mask. Masks can be used in a wide variety of ways to teach emotion recognition, body awareness, emotional expression, subtle social cues and postures, etc. This particular set of masks was designed and created for me by my friend Doug Berky, an actor and mask maker from Indiana. In the photo (below) we are conducting a role play and using masks to depict the emotions often seen in bullying situations, and how different outcomes can change the mask from happy to sad, etc.

We also began to help the trainees develop an action plan for when they returned to Hong Kong. The trainees then spent three and a half days in the field observing many of Cindy’s ongoing “Acting Antics” programs in a variety of settings around her home base in Pennsylvania. They were also given the opportunity to work directly with actors on the spectrum, implementing new techniques learned in the previous days’ trainings.

By the end of the seven day intensive, we group of trainers had developed a very lovely friendship with our six new friends from Hong Kong. We laughed together and spent time discussing how the experience was going to be put into action in their communities.

Overall, I believed we learned as much as trainers as they did as trainees. We were especially honoured when the participants presented us with original art created by artists with developmental disabilities in Hong Kong (pictured left).

Cindy, Chris and myself hope to stay in close contact with our friends to learn about their experiences in the months to come. We also hope to be able to offer similar experiences to others with an interest in autism and theatre in the future.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2011