Several things came up yesterday that bear on the Our Mythical Childhood project, including two things that are relevant to my particular work on autism and classical myth - one planned, the other a conversation that took a turn that has reminded me of some previous work that I can now revisit. The planned thing was a seminar I attended yesterday lunchtime at the Psychology Department at Roehampton. The speaker, Jamie Ward of Sussex University, was talking about possible links between the perceptual abilities of syntesthetes and autistic people. He reported that what he has found - and it felt a privilege to hear about how research is conducted - is that the common ground would seem to be just where autism is regarded in terms of an ability rather than a problem or deficiency in Simon Baron-Cohen's Autism Spectrum Quotient. I am not sure whether there is any direct applicability to my project beyond giving me an insight into autism and autistic experiences from a specialist in another field – that of synaesthesia – whose work has led him to research into autism.
The second thing is this: I was talking yesterday evening with a former student, and now a colleague, at the reception after the inaugural lecture by my colleague Mike Edwards. The former student reminded me that he first came to Roehampton as a classical civilisation undergraduate student in 2008. This was just when I was beginning to develop my ideas on autism and classical myth. Indeed, I recall writing some notes on the project while a group of students – himself included – were doing an in-class activity. I think that scribbling some notes eight years ago has stuck in my mind because it was teaching this module – an introductory course on ancient Greek literature – that helped me work through a few ideas relevant to the project while it was in its very early stages. I went on to develop these sketched-out thoughts for a paper I presented to Roehampton’s annual learning and teaching conference along with a colleague in educational development.
The chat with yesterday with the former student has reminded me that I really need to search out the notes I wrote back then on the project. I was full of ideas as to how a dramatherapy approach might offer insights into how classical mythology might inform the teaching of autistic students – while also providing a learning experience for all students. There is also plenty of potential applicability that I want to explore for using myth with autistic children.