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'Objects in transition: the puppet and the autistic child'

Trimingham, Melissa (2010) 'Objects in transition: the puppet and the autistic child'. Journal of Applied Arts in Health, 1 (3). pp. 251-265. ISSN 2040-2457. (doi:10.1386/jaah.1.3.251_1) (KAR id:26300)



Although claims for the efficacy of puppetry in therapeutic contexts lack extensive academic research, some published evidence does exist. A phenomenological and embodied approach is used here beginning with the writer’s own experience as a mother to theorize on the puppet’s role as a surrogate communicator and facilitator with children who lack communication skills. Instead of foregrounding language difficulties (as is often the case in writings on autism), this article focuses on the physical reality of a puppet. The writer explores notions of embodiment where neurological patterns are established through physical interaction with the world, and suggests ways in which this patterning may be interrupted or disturbed, and how puppets, as safe and to some extent controllable physical objects, may act therapeutically to re-establish some of these patterns. It is further suggested that puppets may work in similar ways to Winnicott’s ‘transitional objects’ in babyhood, operating in a ‘transitional space’. Winnicott claims that in a psychologically healthy adult, the comfort of infantile transitional objects and phenomena is transferred to religion, art and creativity – activities that provide a bridge between the inner world that we totally control and the external world, which we do not. Such activities are linked to a creative ‘space’ of mind and are psychologically necessary. Puppets operate in this space. Overall, stress is laid on the importance of the material reality of the puppet and its ‘objectness’ to help explain its particular efficacy.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1386/jaah.1.3.251_1
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV3008 People with mental disabilities
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
N Visual Arts > NX Arts in general
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV1568 Disability studies
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Melissa Trimingham
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 15:38 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:04 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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