2 MIN READ | Special Needs

Autism and Shakespeare – Chatting with Anna Kennedy at ‘All Things Autism’

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Psychreg, (2020, February 27). Autism and Shakespeare – Chatting with Anna Kennedy at ‘All Things Autism’. Psychreg on Special Needs. https://www.psychreg.org/autism-and-shakespeare/
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It was great to chat with Dr Anna Kennedy OBE about the amazing experiences my son Lumen has had at Flute Theatre. Kelly Hunter, the founder, and all the actors in Flute Theatre have given us something that combines occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, art therapy, and meditation.

Flute Theatre sessions engage children and their families in Shakespeare productions by incorporating the Hunter Heartbeat Method, something Kelly has developed, along with songs, rhythms, dancing, and games. It is a completely relaxed environment, very inclusive, very engaging, and most important to me, non-judgemental.

The children and families are allowed to be who they are in the space. And the added bonus is I am learning more about Shakespeare, as we’ve explored The Tempest, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Pericles. It means a lot to me to be an ambassador for Flute, which has an autistic board member and is keen to celebrate difference.

Thank you Anna for allowing me a chance to discuss Lumen’s diagnosis when he was three years old and how our lives – my older son Enlai’s, who is now 12, Lumen’s, who is now 7, and my own – since the diagnosis. We wholeheartedly embrace Lumen’s autism and celebrate neurodiversity. Enlai has written blogposts, articles, and created presentations on his experience as a sibling of an autistic brother. I’ve taken on the role of governor at Queensmill School in London, which Lumen attends.

I am an advocate for inclusivity, particularly within the arts realm. As a family, we’ve participated in the research project ‘Changing the Face of Autism Research Together’ which invited families with an autistic member, autistic researchers, as well as neurotypical researchers to come together and discuss their respective experiences.

It was great to learn that we are on the same page with exposing our autistic children to new experiences, including relaxed sessions at museums, theatres, and other exhibitions. And how we believe that every accomplishment – which may seem minor to anyone else – is a cause for celebration. 

Incredibly grateful for the chance to tell you all about WhatDo, our family-owned, autism-friendly social impact clothing brand celebrating neurodiversity and donating 5% of profits to Queensmill School. We are all very excited to share our super soft bamboo fabric, tagless shirts with inside out, red seams. We set three goals when we embarked on the WhatDo adventure: comfort, the celebration of neurodiversity, and eco-friendliness.

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Editor’s note: If you miss ‘All Things Autism‘ at Women’s Radio Station, it’s available all throughout the week from 1am/pm–2am/pm. 


Lisha Rooney is an autism advocate and the CEO of WhatDo, a clothing brand which celebrates neurodiversity. 


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