Scholars of Human Expression: The Experiences of Autistic ...

Scholars of Human Expression: The Experiences of Autistic ...

Scholars of Human Expression: The Experiences of Autistic Performing Arts Professionals and Attitudes of Performing Arts Employers in the UK Ellie Buckley, Liz Pellicano, & Anna Remington The real barrier and the real thing I struggle with is just other peoples perceptions, and other peoples misconceptions Twitter: @cerebellieum

Autistic performing arts professional Aims of this study To examine the employment experiences of autistic performing arts professionals To examine the attitudes and adjustments of performing arts employers to working with autistic people Participants Age Mean (SD), years

Median, years Range, years Gender Female Male Non-binary or other Intellectual disability Autistic performing arts professionals N = 18

Performing arts employers N = 19 32.6 (12.1) 44 (9.3) 28.5 19 61 43.5

31 58 7 9 2 10 9 3 3

Participants The majority of professionals interviewed were primarily working as performers, and some worked as production technicians The performing arts employers had varied roles within the performing arts: there were directors, casting directors, artistic/creative directors, agents, and heads of production, technical, diversity, and access Some employers explicitly stated that they had worked with autistic people, some

4 Analysis Professionals and employers responses were analysed together, due to discussing similar topics Participants open-ended responses were analysed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) 5 Themes

1. Autism can bring strengths 2. A challenging profession 3. Not all want to disclose 4. A need for individualised support 1. Autism can bring strengths 7 1. Autism can bring strengths: Scholars of human expression

I had to learn to understand body language, behaviours, facial expressions that sort of thing, I had to study them and from doing that, I think its made me into a better actor Autistic performing arts professional Ireally developed this catalogue, this encyclopaedia of facial expressions and body language Autistic performing arts professional 8

1. Autism can bring strengths: Seeing the world differently I think Aspergers lends itself to creative thinking, that you see the world a bit differently, and that is actually quite a useful talent for the arts! Autistic performing arts professional They [autistic people] are really creative Performing arts employer

9 2. A challenging profession 10 2. A challenging profession: Networking is challenging People will want to go out for drinks, I usually do because it is networking and you are supposed to, but I find that period really

tough Autistic performing arts professional 2. A challenging profession: Mediating the responses of non-autistic colleagues I think where the problem occurs is when the non-autistic people can't relate to the autistic people and then they start shouting and screaming or they start having little bitchy sessions or whatever and then it affects the whole dynamic...But it's never been the autistic people that have created that

Performing arts employer 2. A challenging profession: A struggle with last minute change Things do change last minute, and I find that really difficult, I find that really stressful internally Autistic performing arts professional I understand that last minute changes to arrangements, which I am afraid does happen in this industry, can actually cause

a bit of disquiet 3. Not all want to disclose 14 3. Not all want to disclose The real barrier and the real thing I struggle with is just other peoples perceptions, and other peoples misconceptions Autistic performing arts professional

Actors dont disclose their disability and its not a part of the show so you would never know. So, is that a good thing or a bad thing? I dont know, but its not a visible thing 4. A need for individualised support 16 4. A need for individualised

support I don't feel that confident personally. If the situation arose, where without time to prepare, without time to receive any awareness training, where I was required to work with work extensively with someone with autism I'd probably be quite uncomfortable with that Performing arts employer Most of the time, people just dont really know what it means, they dont really know what to

4. A need for individualised support It would be wonderful to know how I can make my rehearsal process and my rehearsal rooms and my auditions and meeting actors and things more accessible Performing arts employer What you need is somebody to see you, who is not necessarily part of the company, somebody who goes, Yes, I can see the difficulty youre

having and maybe youd talk to Autistic performing arts professional Summary Autistic performing arts professionals report challenges in the workplace and also unique strengths of autism The majority of the professionals felt that there was not enough, if any, support available for their work Employers recognised that everyone would have different needs and require (if desired)

individualised support Many of the employers didnt know much about 19 Next steps Most of the autistic performing arts professionals did not currently feel there is adequate work-based support and most employers were not confident about supporting autistic workers A main research priority is to further look into what and how support can be put in

place to support autistic professionals in their careers It is also important to support employers to improve their knowledge and ability to 20 Thanks! Any questions? Twitter: @cerebellieum Email: [email protected]

21

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