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 (2016-22) 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, including to a book of lessons for autistic children focusing on the Choice of Hercules between two very different paths in life. The image above, illustrating the homepage of this blog, is one of the drawings by Steve K. Simons, the book's illustrator, of a chimneypiece panel in a neoclassical villa at Roehampton in South West London. The lessons centre on this panel.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Hercules: Bearer of Hope for Autistic Children? Re-introducing Mythical Hope

 T. B. Huxley-Jones, Joy of Life Fountain (1963), Hyde Park
Qui nous empêche de la vivre
De la revivre infiniment
De vivre à remonter le temps
De déchirer la fin du livre"

"Childhood: who stops us from living it, from reliving it infinitely, from living by rewinding time, by tearing up the end of the book?"

Jacques Brel, L’Enfance

Here is what I am planning to do over several postings this month and the next – to straddle Autism Awareness Week in early April. Lately, I have been overhauling my chapter for Mythical Hope, the first of the books from the ERC-funded Our Mythical Childhood project. I am going to share work from this chapter – it was presenting Hope-themed material in the autumn of 2019 that got me to look in new ways at what I had previously written. Here I put my project again under an aegis of Hope, and I’d welcome feedback!

Coming next: "Childhood: a mythical time..."

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