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Autism handbook launched by Youth Theatre Ireland to support inclusivity

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2 min read

Autism handbook launched by Youth Theatre Ireland to support inclusivity

2 min read

Autism handbook launched by Youth Theatre Ireland to support inclusivity

"May you continue this journey with an open mind and an open heart to all those that you meet along the way." Hannah O’Dwyer, AsIAm

Every week youth theatres up and down the country welcome a rich mix of young people to their workshops including a large number of young people on the autism spectrum. To support a culture of inclusion within affiliated youth theatres, Youth Theatre Ireland have launched a comprehensive guide that will provide youth theatre leaders with the information they need to work with the autistic young people who come through their doors. The delivery of this resource is supported by the Creative Ireland Programme.

Developed in partnership with AsIAm, the National Autism Charity “A Handbook for Youth Theatre Facilitators: Supporting Young People on the Autism Spectrum” is now available and can be found here or on the Youth Theatre Ireland website.

Written by Hannah O’Dwyer, the Training Manager and Education Officer of AsIAm , this comprehensive guide aims to give youth theatre facilitators the confidence to plan and deliver workshops which are inclusive of young people with autism and other neurodiverse conditions. It aims to dispel myths about the condition and replace them with understanding and acceptance of autism. The resource suggests best practice strategies that have been used to great effect both here in Ireland and abroad, and features many approaches developed in Kilkenny Youth Theatre by its facilitator, Anna Galligan, and its youth theatre members.

Autism is a complex condition, which affects a person’s experience of the world around them. Although there are common themes outlined in this handbook, it is essential for facilitators to remember that there is no ‘one size fits all’ model for supporting autistic individuals. They are exactly that – individuals. You could try a suggested strategy and it may work brilliantly with one autistic young person and not at all with another. AsIAm have a saying – ‘when you’ve met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.’ Trial and error are part of the process of supporting young people, as is making consistent efforts to get to know the young person – the more you know about them, the more support you can give. This requires the facilitator to demonstrate patience, resilience and persistence, as well as confidence in their professional ability and in their knowledge of the young person.

As an Autistic person I personally found the biggest challenge to be my own anxiety. I found it helpful when our facilitator talked to me 1 on 1, and gave me the confidence and responsibility to manage myself. Ask autistic people if there’s anything they need. But, most importantly: treat them the same as anyone else and allow them to be responsible for themselves.” – Aidan, Kilkenny Youth Theatre

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