How a theatre tool can unmask autism

Professor uses drama technique to engage children with autism in India.

I was working with a child and his mother, using a theatre mask.

Suddenly, the mother started crying.

I went up to her and asked what happened.

"My son is 8 years old and all these years he had never looked at my face. Today, now, he looked at me."

Drama brought the child and mother together. They bonded. Drama helped them to bond.

There are innumerable stories like that, where I saw lives of children with autism transformed through drama.

Some in the neuro-scientific community think that people with autism have no imagination, no empathy.

I would steadfastly tell them: Look, they can write poetry, they can paint, they can perform on stage. If this is not imagination, then imagination has to be redefined.

My training in applied theatre and a chance encounter with one child with autism motivated me in 2005.

I found children with autism wandering with so many intervention models, and not happy.

Drama, I thought, should be part of their life, so that they can look at life in a beautiful way.            

So I created a platform for artists in the autism spectrum to meet, interact and perform on stage.

Drama for autism needs to reach every nook and corner of the world and any child anywhere in the world can reach out to me for help.

I want every child with autism to be happy, smiling and living the life of their choice.

How To Get Involved

Support Velvi's Art for Autism festival, which is held in different parts of India every year. Velvi is also looking to hold the festival in other countries, where those with autism and their families learn art, music, drama and movement, with the help of experts from India and the US.

Filmmaker  :   Pooja Batura