Autism Awareness Week is on it’s way again. A chance to make some noise. Given we are still in the midst of a pandemic our usual plans to get into schools with a bit of education are out of the window.
We decided that our play Really Reilly which was due to roll out into schools in 2020 could be recorded and then distributed to schools to play safely, adhering to the covid guidelines within bubbles in classrooms. No need to gather in halls to watch a performance.
What’s it about? Really Reilly is a play designed for younger primary school children. It follows autistic character Reilly and looks at some of the reasons he may be different to his classmates and how different is ok.
In past showings I think it’s not only the children who have learned from the experience but also the teachers. When we show that Reilly wants to sit under the table for storytime but the teacher won’t start until he sits smart on the carpet with the rest of the children. The other children get impatient with him and he feels awful. What we clearly communicate is its not the end of the world that a child is more comfortable in a different position, this Reilly hates the feel of the carpet and doesn’t want to sit on it because it feels like a thousand pins. It’s not straight forward. The child may not be able to communicate that well. Little tweaks can make a massive difference to children like Reilly.
It shows the playground dynamics, why he flaps his hands and how inclusion is important even though it may not be acted upon but it can mean the absolute world to be asked.
By the end of the play the children, teachers, lunchtime staff etc got from exclaiming OH REALLY REILLY! to ohhhhhh Really Reilly – now I get it.
Drama is an incredible catalyst for learning. The children absorb when they enjoy learning. Drama does exactly that.
We hope that children will have more understanding and empathy around not just autism but any type of diversity. This will spill out into parks at weekends, family holidays around the pool, shoppers in the supermarket, friends, neighbours or simply a passenger on the bus. It’s a strong message delivered in a engaging way.
In an ideal world I would like every primary school to work with us and really make a difference this year for autism awareness week. Let’s make it about understanding and acceptance that it’s ok to be different.
If you feel you child isn’t understood in mainstream school please recommend us, if you are a proactive school and want to host Really Reilly please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org