I am a sophomore at the University of Northern Iowa majoring in Theatre Performance. I had the pleasure of being an ensemble member in the cast of WONDERland. I have been a part of the project since August when the first class began.
Working with youth on the Spectrum was something I had never experienced until getting to college and immediately getting involved with Spectrum Sunday. I quickly found that it was the most rewarding work. Working with kids in a theatre setting who had a form of autism, social/physical disability reminded me (and continues to remind me) why theatre is so important for young people. I was reminded of the joy and love children give so effortlessly.
During the process I found myself becoming more aware of all of my senses. I wanted the kids to be able to use all of them. Creating the piece was a lot of hard work, but seeing kids understand patterns, make discoveries, explore a new world, and take risks made everything worth it.
I vividly remember the dress rehearsal where you and your lovely children came to visit. Tucker was actually the first interaction I tried to make in the show. I could see the apprehension on his face as I offered my handful of petals to him, and knew it was only a matter of time before he would take that step, and try it.
ONE moment where a yes is heard, is worth the 5 times he declined. Seeing him onstage made my heart swell with pride. Seeing kids take risks, like playing in the dry ice fog, or shout out that they understand BIG and SMALL was a victory.
It’s about an experience. I am so blessed to have experienced the show with your children, and even more honored to write about my own personal experience. I want to continue furthering my love in theatre through the eyes of a young person. Autism is a world I cannot experience personally, but I can try and view it through their eyes.
Theatre is a beautiful gift that keeps on giving me that opportunity. Thank you for sharing your children with us. I will always search for that sense of play and WONDER in my life.
Photo Credit: Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier
Having someone with an ASD on your team not only benefits the individual, but those around them. Awareness, acceptance, and engagement can only come from broadening the minds and experiences of all people. It’s obvious that being part of this performance changed this young woman’s life, and for that, I am quite grateful.