by Ramamoorthi Parasuram on Thursday, January 8, 2015
- Session type
- Technical level
To faciliate trainers/teachers/ parents to understand Autism spectrum disorder through Theatre
and particularly the Mask.
To improve eye-contact
To increase the attention span in an activity
to engage in Creative play and group work
Those participants will learn how to use theatre with children with Autism.
Mask unmasks Autism Spectrum Disorder : Innovation project
Dr. Parasuram Ramamoorthi Autism spectrum Disorder is a neuro-developmental disorder that affects nearly 1 out of 150 children in India and in US it is 1 out of 100 children. DSM V characterizes the disorder as failure to interact socially, repetitive behavior and failure to establish eye-contact with another person and refusal to participate in Group Play.
Since 2006 I have been working with children with ASD in India and in several countries to facilitate communication , improve eye contact and increase the attention span of children with ASD.
I used theatre technique of the Mask. Mask has been a theatre tool in ancient Indian theatre, Greek theatre and in some European cultures too. Even in modern western theatre mask is used. Very significant use of the mask is seen in Therukoothu, Kathakali, yakshghana and in some ritualistic theatre forms like Ram Leela.
My research and workshops over these 10 years have proved effective with more than hundreds of children and persons whom I have trained have also used the Mask technique in several cultures and found it effective. Hence the project Mask Unmasks Autism is presented so that it may reach many more children in Northern India.
Masks have been used in many therapeutic settings by Drama Therapists like Sue Jennings and Phil Jones and I have also used it at MS Chellamuthu Mental health Institute Madurai with 12 patients of Schizophrenia. But so far research shows that I am the first one to use Mask effectively with children with ASD.
The use of the mask reduces peripheral vision and helps the child to focus. The mask brings the child in direct contact with the care giver or the parent. Eye-contact develops in nearly 6 out of ten children. Eye –contact is fundamental for communication. I would like to submit some videos. Here are some pictures:
Masks have also improved the confidence of children and they have started interacting with other children comfortably because their face is hidden. They feel secure with the mask.
Masks used are very colorful and often depict what the children love, animals, superman and other interesting characters. The masks are not forced on them. Masks are displayed on the floor and children start picking what they like .
Mask engages them in creative play and group play. While playing in a group eye contact improves and their attention span also increases. In more than one case with the use of the mask and facial mask attention span has increased from 10 seconds to 180 seconds.
This has been demonstrated in India, US , Dubai and Jordan.
1 2 3 4 5 Eye Contact (time in seconds) 2-3 2-5 3-6 5-8 6-8
Attention to Task (% time fully engaged) 20% 25% 35% 50% 55%
On Topic Conversation (# exchanges) 2 4 5 5 6
Appropriate body language no yes yes yes yes
Reciprocal turn taking (#exchanges) 1 3 3 4 5
This graph shows a child’s improvement in attention span over a period of one week from 10 seconds to 180 seconds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=H-pzE5oeYFY this video will show you working with a young boy in Dubai and the eye-contact and communication improved in the course of a three day workshop. Some children who had sensory issues ( particularly tactile issues) refused the mask and hence I had to resort to the facial mask, using non-allergic cremes and today I use natural products like
Papaya pulp, carrot pulp, yogurt mixed with basin powder and facial mask I found not only improved the eye contact ; it also improved the bonding between the parent and the child. A lot of attention, focusing and bonding developed between the child and the parent during facial mask.
There are many videos demonstrating the use of the mask and the facial mask : mostly taken during my workshops in India and in many foreign countries.
The core of the project is to facilitate communication and social interaction through the use of Mask.
https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/58654_10151313021336030_935543365_n.jpg The Hindu Coimbatore had a write up and several articles have been published on my work with the children .
I consider this project highly innovative , socially relevant and would be of immense use to schools, homes of children with ASD in India. It is an interdisciplinary project : Theatre/ Disability studies and Mental Health.
Dr. Parasuram Ramamoorthi
A hall LCD screen with projector
Parasuram Ramamoorthi Ph.D
Retired Professor of Theatre Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai
Vice-Chair of International association of Theatre for Autism
A poet. Playwright and internationally well known Director .
One of the pioneers in the filed of Applied Drama.
Prof. Ramamoorthi has been working in the field of Arts for Autism since 2003 and has conducted workshops on drama for autism in Europe/England /USA and in several parts of India.
He has published a pamphlet on Autism : A puzzle
which has been translated into Malayalam and Tamil.
He is the Editor of the first volume of the Journal ARTRAN , a journal of Autism professionals.
He has also produced an Educational DVD called Drama for Autism.
He has conducted workshops Drama for Autism in many parts of India, Bangalore, delhi, Hyderabad, trivandrum, Mumbai, kochin, Chennai
Published an essay ( co-author Andrew Nelson) : “Drama Education for individuals on the Autism spectrum” in Key Concepts in Theatre/Drama Education. Ed. Shifra Schonmann. Sense Publishers :Netherlands. 2011
Autism and Creativity for parent circle Magazine Aug.2013
Drama Empowers Autism for Brain gym magazine Mumbai Sept.2013
He has appeared on the major Indian Television channels and advocated the cause of Autism : early intervention.