Inclusive Schools Role Model Finn Magee

Hello, my name is Finn Magee. I am teacher in Millennium Integrated Primary School. I've been teaching for 30 years and I've also been teaching drama and my own private business for the last 20 years. In many cases I have been able to deal with children on the autistic Spectrum, both in primary school and in drama.

Where I found my use of drama and using drama within the classroom also has been enormously helpful with regard to inclusion and specifically with those children who may struggle and who are on the autistic spectrum.

And there is one particular instance that I always remember because it was just unbelievable. So, quite often parents would contact me and say: “you know, you might...” not that, they wouldn't necessarily say that their child had ASD and what they would say, you know: “my child has problems and... has problems with following rules or has problems with their listening skills...” And and I would always say, well drama is the perfect vehicle to try and allow them to access and lessons and learning in that way.

So there was one child I heard he was about 6 years old and his parents said to me, “he doesn't speak. He simply won't speak. He'll speak at home. Certainly he's very fluent and will speak at home, but in a school situation, where in a drama setting. He won't speak, he simply would speak. So we would like to have to let him have the experience of drama to see if he enjoys it and we'll see where we go from there.” So I said not problem at all. It's more than welcome and welcome to into the class and of course he said absolutely nothing. He looked perfectly happy but would not respond to a question, wouldn't respond to other children, simply sat... he did what he was told. So if I said, you know, I want everyone to get into groups of four, he would get up and move around and get into groups of four. So all the drama games that you play that are non-verbal he was brilliant. Always enjoyed it, smile on his face. He was he was doing well, and then we got to the point where we're doing.. in this case, we were doing were you think of a book and you hop see the character and I was aware that he probably wouldn’t be able to access that because he wouldn't speak, but I told him that if he wanted a particular role that was not speaking he could do that. But all of a sudden and the kids where doing this work, they decided they were actually doing “the room and room...” and , Whatever by Julia Donaldson. And he stood up and asked a question, I was absolutely amazed, but didn't, you know, I didn't go “oh”. It's the wrong thing to do, obviously,

But I just let him continue. And, of course, children being so accepting and they just proceeded on with what they were doing. It was, as if nothing alarming or remarkable It actually happened. So he continued to talk and when he did when they had finished their little scenario I said to him, that was amazing. Did you enjoy that? And of course, he was back to not speaking again and I said to his parents: “You're not going to believe this. He actually spoke during an improvisation” and the parents were overjoyed, and that was the route. That was the way for him to feel kind of that, he wasn't necessarily himself in that scenario, and he could absolutely verbalize somebody else's feelings. So I kept at it and every week there be a different scenario to improvise or whatever he would always say what he had to say. And as the months, and I think it was maybe a year and a half went by, and before long, he was actually speaking, you know, answering questions in the class and I do like, do think that the drama one hundred percent help that child with his selective mutism.

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