Theatre helping autistic children improve communication - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Theatre helping autistic children improve communication

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A unique camp in Middle Tennessee camp is helping children with autism learn important life skills.

Communication is a big struggle for kids with autism, but this summer they're getting the opportunity to learn those skills by taking the stage.

Camper David Wu, 14, and some of his fellow cast members have been hard at work preparing for the original play, Mergatroid and the Candy Store.

Called SENSE Theatre, the children are performing the show this weekend.

The autistic children communicate by sharing the stage with actors who are all members of the University School of Nashville Theatre Guild.

"They learn to communicate verbally and nonverbally with gestures, actions and movements," said clinical research director Blythe A. Corbett Ph. D., who works with and studies children with autism.

So, what may look like an acting exercise is an opportunity to teach these children about understanding facial expressions and how to better interact.

"Our peers are developing actors. We teach them about autism and how to engage our kids. They are instrumental for our kids learning these skills," said Corbett.

Bradley Early is back at camp for the third year.

"I just thought it would be something I'm interested in, and I am," said Early.

For the past three years, researchers have been following the progress of each child that goes through the SENSE Theatre program.

Researchers said kids who went through the program have shown an improvement in communication skills, they've able to adapt to changing situations better and they have a lower stress level.

Performances will be held Friday and Saturday night at the University School of Nashville auditorium located on Edgehill Avenue

Visit the link to learn more about SENSE Theatre:  http://www.sensetheatre.com/.

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