Lumen is a very happy eight-year-old, non-verbal, autistic boy who primarily uses gesture to communicate. He says a few words, although not always in context. He conveys his needs and emotions, as well as self-regulates by spinning, flapping his hands, jumping, swinging, chewing various objects, and using facial expressions. Lumen suffers from sensory processing disorder which translates into him being very sensitive to sound, light, temperature, and texture. He learns about his environment through touch and also by licking objects. He has difficulty with transitions, being flexible in situations, and understandably, being misunderstood. It is during these times that he harms others and himself.
All of this makes his participation in Flute Theatre’s activities all the more profound. He has been given tools not offered anywhere else. He has been given a sense of security and familiarity, which for an autistic child, are not always easy to come by. He said ‘Hello’ for the first time after listening to Heartbeat Hellos for weeks; he was captivated for the entire hour of Pericles online; he smiled, laughed, and even emulated facial expressions of actors; and he has sung some of the songs he has heard from Flute’s Soundcloud as a way to self-regulate or to express joy.
Lisha Aquino Rooney, Lumen’s mother
We have continued playing online with the Queensmill School students and families through the pandemic, carrying on the project in the face of these adversities.
During term time we have played with the most at-risk students who remained at school during the lockdown, one autistic individual at a time per workshop.
In the holidays – when we would have been at the Bush Theatre with our summer community project – we played online every day with one family at a time. Elise Robinson visited the families homes, thereby maintaining the grassroots commitment of our project.
For some children it is easier to access our games virtually. For some it is harder. The only thing that matters right now is that we are reaching out with hearts full, staying together and combating isolation day by day by day.