Rachel Garmon continues the conversation in the crossroads of Improv and Autism. In the last blog, we looked at how Improv can build flexibility in those along the spectrum. Today we look at the skill of perspective taking.
Perspective Taking - What is it? It is the ability to look beyond oneself and see someone else and their viewpoint. We all have our lenses through which we see the world. As we grow and interact with others we learn to view other perspectives.
We all have those moments of getting caught up in ourselves and forget to take the viewpoint of another. Perspective taking for those along the Autism Spectrum can be a difficult social skill to learn. When looking to increase social skills with those along the Autism Spectrum having this skill of seeing others’ viewpoints allows meaningful relationships to be built.
Building the skill through Improv?
Improv is full of these perspective taking moments. How else can we create with another person if not first observing? Throughout any exercise, there is a need to constantly observe beyond ourselves; “How are my actions affecting others and why am I receiving those reactions back?”
One drill I often use is a Group Build. I set forth the task for the group to create an object, say an airplane. There are two catches though. 1) There cannot be any repeat parts and 2) Everything must be done silently.
Our first few tries are hard, but soon people learn to observe the shapes and motions of others.They successfully create the object with no repeats. In a harder drill, we play Taxi Driver. In this variation, there are two chairs. One for the driver and the passenger. As the driver ‘picks up’ passengers the driver embodies the character of the passengers’ voice, body, and actions. As time passes two become one. When I am working with those along the spectrum we look to engage in conversation. Do we ask those questions that allow us to understand another's viewpoint? i.e. “ How are you?”, Where are you going? etc.
Learning Perspective Taking takes time. Working at learning to see another's viewpoint is something all of us can practice. We can look at the science and see that those with autism and autism spectrum disorders take in the world in different ways. By working to understand viewpoints we can build connections. We all perceive and take in the world differently. How we connect is by learning to see how others see the world.
Each time I teach a class or workshop I gain a new insight or perspective. How have you viewed the world?