“The Friendship Equation” – Using Puppet Theatre to Improve Students’ Attitudes towards their Peers on the Autism Spectrum
Many students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suffer from stigmatizing attitudes of their peers. The puppet play, “The Autism Adventures of Watson & Holmes: The Friendship Equation”, is predicted to increase knowledge of ASD and reduce stigmatizing attitudes in third and fourth grade students who were tested before and after attending the performance. The play uses a mystery-based storyline to encourage students to observe and investigate their interactions and make positive friendship choices. Combining creative audience engagement, sing-a-longs, and educational silliness, “The Friendship Equation” teaches students five ways to be a good friend to someone on the spectrum.
Saint Paul, MN
Sarah Noel Simon is graduating from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota with a dual major in theatre arts and psychology with a focus in childhood development and disorder. She has had multiple experiences working with children on the autism spectrum including giving riding lessons for an equine therapy program and creating and leading a puppetry workshop at a local high school for students with autism. Through “The Autism Adventures of Watson and Holmes”, she has combined her interests in psychology and theatre by writing a puppet play which introduces ways students can better interact with their peers on the autism spectrum using engaging and interactive theatre. She is honored to present her research at the symposium and would like to thank her family, friends, and professors at Hamline for their support throughout the research and development of the project. Her future plans include continuing her work with students on the autism spectrum and further developing a body of educational plays for children.