Theatre and Autism Communication Skills

Throughout my life, everyone told me I was destined to be an actress. The gleaming lights of Broadway shone brightly in my eyes. My Mother and Father had an extensive collection of albums ranging from The Sound of Music to Wicked thus; further fueling my desire to dance on the “Great White Way.” After graduating a year early from high school, I was accepted to Lees-McRae College’s BFA Musical Theatre program. I continued to pursue my dream career and graduated summa cum laude.

During my enrollment, I found my talents were best suited for children’s theatre. Since 2014, I have been a professional performer in the children’s show, Hopper and Porter’s Musical Celebration. for Tweetsie Railroad in Boone, North Carolina.

The show caters to children five years old and under. During November 2016 – April 2017, I had the privilege to perform with a professional theatre in the Detroit metropolitan area. Their children’s themed performances revolved around anti-bullying campaigns. During my time in Detroit, I witnessed how deeply theatre can impact the lives of children.

On numerous occasions after the anti-bullying performances, students would approach us. Often times, the students would tell us our shows positively affected their thinking; and they wanted to be “the change.” This scenario was frequently repeated and led me to the following query: If children and young adults have life-altering reactions to watching plays, what would happen if they were more involved in theatrical productions? The lights of Broadway began to dim, and a new passion would eventually emerge.

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Immediately, I began to research the question that would lead me to my life’s passion. During my investigation, I found an article that solidified and validated my destiny.

The article featured Dr. Angela Losardo at Appalachian State University. In this article, Dr. Losardo had researched theatre’s ability to improve communication and language skills in children with autism. On a few occasions, while studying at Appalachian State University, I had the privilege on to observe Dr. Losardo’s Theatre and Therapy class. This class truly substantiated my desire to work with students in the public-school system. I plan to utilize my background in theatre to help those with various speech and language disorders. Although I love Appalachian State University, I have always dreamed of studying at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UNC’s graduate program is one of the best in North Carolina, therefore, it would be an honor to attend this esteemed institution. UNC has a reputation for pushing students to exceed their comfort levels, to work harder to achieve their goals and to constantly challenge themselves. I, for one, have never shied away from a challenge.

I must admit after completing my first undergraduate degree and after being away from the academic world for more than 3 years, returning to the role of student was not as easy as one might assume. I had the daunting task of learning how to be a student again. My quiet evenings of re-watching Parks and Recreation were soon replaced with hours of trying to understand Erikson’s theories of human development. This course proved to be the most difficult class of my entire academic career. On paper at least, Human Growth and Development appeared to be a “cut and dry” type class. My expectations were to merely study for a couple of hours for a test and do the course work. The assumptions I had for this class were amiss. The questions for both quizzes and tests were amply detailed and specific in origin. Therefore, they required an extensive review and thorough knowledge of the textbook. At times, this proved to be both time-consuming and cumbersome. Self-doubt soon ensued. Multiple times during the semester, I found myself questioning if I had made the right decision to go back to school. Fortunately, I do not give up easily. My tenacity persevered. I buckled-down to dedicate more study-time and to develop new study habits. My efforts and determination paid off, I received an “A” in the class. However, this would not be the only challenge to overcome. As a young student, I would score exceedingly well on standardized tests.

The scores would consistently be in the 96th to 98th percentile. The standardized tests encompassed many subjects including mathematics. When I took the End-of-Grade test for fourth grade, my mathematics score remained at the 97th percentile and did not show growth from the previous year. My teacher felt inclined to announce to my peers my lack of growth and proceed to express her disappointment with me. I was beyond mortified and hurt by her actions and words. From that moment forward, my academic confidence has been severely compromised. Thus, my standardized testing scores have been adversely affected. I usually score well, but the scores do not accurately reflect my true potential. The embarrassment has continued to plague me. I consistently perform well on the practice tests. However, when test day arrives, I panic. Despite this affliction, I continue to diligently work toward obtaining my goals. I pride myself on my tenacity, work ethics and dedication to my studies. My grade point average is one of my main priorities and is consistently between 3.9 and 4.0. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that the results of a test do not define who you are, your intelligence level, nor what you are capable of.

While my GRE scores may not accurately reflect my potential, I can assure your program that I will be an asset during my time at UNC. No one ever prepares you for the day when you realize that maybe your dream is no longer applicable. You must ask yourself this: Do you continue down the same path, or be brave and start over with new challenges and adventures? Life’s journey does not always lead us down the same path we begin on. It sometimes brings us to a crossroad where we find a different dream. A dream that provides both happiness and service to others. Thus far, this journey has challenged me beyond my wildest imagination and has been the most rewarding time of my life. I have learned more about myself in the past year and a half than ever before.

Challenging and pushing myself has always been one of my core values. When faced with a difficult class or overcoming past trauma, I always face them head on to achieve my goals. Yes, test scores, grades, and other academic measures are important. However, the ability to challenge oneself, conquer fears, build strong work and moral ethics and tenacity are the the most valuable attributes of all. I firmly believe I have many characteristics and experiences to offer the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I will be a perfect fit and can mentor others who may silently suffer similar challenges.

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Theatre and Autism Communication Skills. (2021, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Theatre and Autism Communication Skills
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