There are over 700,000 adults and children with Autism in the UK.
Generally autism can be diagnosed between the ages of 2 to 5 years old and it is during these early years that children develop their social, language and motor skills. Children with Autism may find it difficult to connect with others or show any desire to interact at all. Large crowds upset them and can cause anxiety and as such, parents and guardians often find it difficult to take their children to social or public events, which can be a shame for the children and their siblings. The circus is one such event which non-autistic children love but typically children with autism might find stressful – and it’s something that Circus Starr – ‘the circus with a purpose’ – strives to change.
Circus Starr is a world class touring circus of professional artists from around the world. They founded the special circus in 1987 with the aim of raising funds for local charities and at the same time, providing free seats for disabled, vulnerable and disadvantaged children
Every year Circus Starr provides over £1.3 million of free tickets to children and their families, schools or community groups across the UK and now Circus Starr have devised an app to prepare the more vulnerable of children, such as children on the autistic spectrum, for the experience, giving them more of an opportunity to experience and enjoy it.
Speaking to the Guardian’s culture professionals network, Circus Starr’s community engagement manager, Cath Logan said of the app ‘ Show and Tell‘, “We needed to prepare a child who didn’t like surprises for a show full of surprises … without ruining the surprise. We wanted to produce an app that could somehow capture and convey the essence, magic and unpredictability of circus for a very literal audience.”
Visual stories are often used to gently prepare a child for new experiences, helping them to envisage a situation in advance so that the actual event isn’t such a shock or fearful experience for them.
The Show and Tell app provides a ‘photographic feast’ for children to enjoy. It shows colourful images of the circus show in action, that helps children to familiarise themselves with what a circus is and what happens there, before they get there. Children can even be added to the stories on the app using their own images, text and film.The app is available free of charge from the Apple store and can be used on an iPhone or iPad.
The launch of the app heralds Circus Starr’s latest sell-out, 27-venue tour this autumn during which hundreds of children will be able to roll up and truly enjoy all the fun of the circus.