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The Art of Inclusivity: Youth Theatre Ireland Supporting Young People on the Autism Spectrum

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2 min read

The Art of Inclusivity: Youth Theatre Ireland Supporting Young People on the Autism Spectrum

2 min read

2/04/22

The Art of Inclusivity: Youth Theatre Ireland Supporting Young People on the Autism Spectrum

Around 18% of youth theatre members in Ireland live with a disability, the vast majority of whom identify as neurodiverse, Youth Theatre Ireland's major research project 'Centre Stage +20' found in 2019.

What’s more, a significant number of those surveyed for the report specifically mentioned Autistic Spectrum Condition, shedding new light on the particularly rich mix of young people who find  community, encouragement, and a safe place to express themselves in youth theatres across the country.

“Youth Theatre has always been a place of inclusivity. It welcomes all. It thrives on diversity, and so do all involved,” says Anna Galligan, outreach officer and Director of Kilkenny Youth Theatre.

“When I was 16 I joined the world of youth theatre. It was one of the most important experiences of my life. I was no one’s daughter, no one’s sister, not the ‘giddy’ one, not the ‘daydreamer’ or the one with a short attention span – I was just accepted as me. I belonged somewhere, as just me. I wish this for all our young people.”

"Inclusion lies at the heart of good youth theatre practice"

Above:

In 2020, Anna got together with the folks at Youth Theatre Ireland and AsIAm (Ireland’s national Autism charity) to produce ‘A Handbook for Youth Theatre Facilitators; Supporting Young People on the Autism Spectrum’, a resource developed specifically to arm youth theatre leaders with the information and strategies they need to confidently manage classes and projects that include young people on the autistic spectrum, created with the help of Creative Ireland.

Youth Theatre Ireland roots the ethos of their organisation in the belief that inclusion lies at the heart of good youth theatre practice, and with this resource, they hope to help youth theatre guides challenge some of the myths and misconceptions about autism by focusing on youth theatre best practice strategies based on feedback from Kilkenny Youth Theatre members and the wisdom and expertise of Anna herself.

“I think of all young people I have worked with over nearly 40 years,” she says, “each one unique, each one containing a world of potential, of creativity. There is no ‘typical’, ‘atypical’, ‘neurodiverse’ – there is only ‘us’, becoming stronger because we celebrate and include all.”

 

Read more about ‘Supporting Young People on the Autism Spectrum’ and download the handbook here.

 

 

For more information on the Creative Ireland Programme Creative Youth programme, see here.

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