Drama offers the opportunity for the children with special needs to express themselves in an artistic and creative manner. It provides an immense chance for them to interact with each other in a more meaningful and harmonious manner.
It is fundamental to provide a friendly and pleasant atmosphere for the children with special needs to overcome their disabilities to a certain extent. The employment of drama in the curriculum for children with special needs is sometimes equated with drama therapy. The participation to drama activities can easily banish the prejudiced attitudes away in society regarding the children with special needs.
Additionally, it can easily provide the chance for them to develop their talents and to look at their lives in a new perspective which is positive and promising. The active and enthusiastic participation in the drama activities can develop the sense of belonging amongst the children with special needs.
According to Irish Times, a Galway autistic teenager named Róisín Lavelle was having a hard time in the summer of 2016. Her mother, Marian, noticed that she was always alone and stayed at the back of the room during her group drama classes with other children like her. Worried about her condition as well as confidence, she seek help from Michelle O’ Grady who was an expert and qualified speech and drama teacher for children with special needs.
Marian said Róisín needed time to be comfortable with new people but with O’ Grady, she took an instant liking. Within five months, she is better at communicating, happier and has a better perspective of her life. Truly, drama is a chance for them to develop their talents and to view their lives in a new scope even if they are different from others.
Another positive aspect of using the theatre as a medium of social engagement is that it fundamentally deals with literature, music and performance. Music and literature have the ability to soothe the minds of the children with special needs. The participation of the theatre performance will benefit them in an encouraging manner since it proves them that they are no longer discriminated, marginalised or treated differently. They too become the active and energetic participants of society. Not only will it soothe the minds of children with special needs, but music and literature are elements that can curb depression and anxiety. These elements bring serenity to the mind and are universally known to encourage bliss.
Furthermore, the theatre performance helps the holistic development of the child. It promotes the gross motor skills and the better coordination that can be promoted through the dancing and performing activities. It encourages them to interact with their peers and to do the work collaboratively. They comprehend the validity of the team work. They achieve the practice for the adult life as in the theatrical performances they have to play the roles of father and mother.
Moreover, it enhances the language skills of the children with special needs. They achieve the ability to read, write and verbalise through memorizing. It develops their organisational skills. In order to write a script lot of knowledge and organization needed, hence children need to use their brain to come up with a better script. Finally, it widens their aesthetic sensibilities and creative thinking.
Moreover, drama can be seen as an activity to elevate a person’s level of fitness. This perspective can also be inculcated to the use of children with special needs. To illustrate, drama requires breathing techniques so that an actor of a play can speak their lines without stopping for a breath and talk smoothly. When on stage as well, a lot of movements are required. As stated before, drama promotes the gross motor skills and better coordination. Children with special needs do not only improve their breathing technique but also get to improve their way of speaking. Breathing exercises encourage relaxation, articulation and indirectly, by ameliorating their breathing technique they could do better in performing in real life and be come more physically and mentally fit.
In a nutshell, drama is beneficial for children with special needs and offers them an outlet to express themselves in an artistic and creative manner. They could become themselves even more and get out of their shell. It is great for them because they will feel as if they are like everyone else and drama is a great outlet for them. To reiterate, drama provide a chance for children with special needs to interact with each other and others in a more artistic and serene way. Drama develops their social and creative skills and with that, they have a chance of a brighter future.
This article was contributed by Prabath Shavinda Dissanayake and Siti Aishah binti Ahmad, Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya as part of their social engagement project with Challenges Media.