Why classical myth and autism?

Why classical myth and autism?

The idea for this project started to take shape at a meeting in 2008 with a special needs teacher, who mentioned that, in her experience and those of her colleagues, autistic children often enjoy classical myth. I began to wonder why this might be the case, and whether – as a classicist who researches, and loves, classical myth – there was anything I could contribute. I started this blog to report on my progress which was often sporadic until the launch of the Warsaw-based European Research Council-funded project Our Mythical Childhood (2016-21) to trace the role of classics in children’s culture.

My key contribution to the project is an exploration of classics in autistic children’s culture, above all by producing myth-themed activities for autistic children. This blog shares my progress, often along Herculean paths.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Back from a quest for Mythical Hope

I'm recently back from an extremely stimulating time in quest of Our Mythical Hope in Warsaw. I've come back full of ideas for my autism and classical myth resources.  I'll share the paper I delivered there soon - once I've written up the annotations I made to the draft I took along with me. The photo below shows me with my fellow Roehampton questers Sonya Nevin and Steve Simons. 

And here I am, snapped talking with Eduardo Pecchini, in the aftermath of our panel exploring Hercules, disability and mental health - appropriately enough in the presence of Hercules. In one of the many coincidences I've encountered in relation to this project, we each started working, totally independently, on Hercules from the perspective of disability at the same time. I'll say more about this presently.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Getting ready for 'Hercules and the autistic imagination: introducing the 'autism' strand of Our Mythical Childhood'

In just over a week, I shall be heading to Warsaw for the first of three conferences associated with the Our Mythical Childhood Project. The upcoming event is this one:

Our Mythical Hope in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture... The (In)efficacy of Ancient Myths in Overcoming the Hardships of Life

The aspect of 'mythical hope' I shall explore will be in connection with my research for the autism and classical myth strand of the OMC Project. I shall introduce the work I'm doing by setting out two key things underpinning my research: that teachers and other professionals welcome new ideas for their work with autistic children, and that classical mythology provides a rich source of such material. I will focus especially on the resources I am creating around stories of Hercules, especially his difficult journeys into fantasy lands and his comparably difficult experiences in the mundane world where he often remains an outsider. In particular, I shall explore the potential of these stories in:
  • Stimulating the imagination
  • Extending experience
  • Developing social and personal skills
  • Giving cultural experience
  • Aiding interaction with others
Last week I started an Academia session on the topic. If you'd like to join (I'd be honoured!), please go to: https://www.academia.edu/s/aac55062c5/hercules-and-the-autistic-imagination