I will never forget the first time I watched my son Ryan walk onto the stage in his first musical theatre performance. The best word to describe that moment was transforming. He no longer looked like the teen who struggled to feel comfortable in his own skin. Ryan was relaxed, happy and embracing his role. It occurred to me weeks later why.
Ryan had a script to follow. He knew not only where to stand, what dance move to perform and what note to sing, he also knew the emotion his character felt. He knew the emotions of the other characters, he knew how they felt and how he was supposed to feel. More importantly, Ryan knew what to say and he knew what the other characters on stage were going to say too. That takes away the anxiety of what to say or do next away. The script took all the guesswork out of the social interactions.
This is precisely why “scripting” as a form of communication also makes sense for individuals with autism. If Austin Powers said this to Goldmember and it worked there, it makes logical sense that it would work here. And my boy is one of the most logical people on the planet.
I love that Ryan has found musical theatre and I love that when he performs for 90 minutes on stage, he doesn’t have to work so hard to get it “right.”
(Photo is from this summer’s performance of “Freaky Friday.” In this scene, Ryan is a pastor performing a marriage ceremony and he appears to be taking his job quite seriously.)