Playing A/Part is an interdisciplinary project, exploring the identities and experiences of autistic girls and adolescents through creative and participatory research. It is a collaboration between the universities of Kent and Surrey, involving academics in drama, music, media arts and psychology. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the project team includes a steering group of autistic women and a multidisciplinary advisory board.
By offering participants (aged 11-16) the opportunity to take part in a range of creative participatory activities, we aim to gain insights into how autistic girls and adolescents experience themselves and their world. Our team are evaluating how creative activities affect self-awareness and well-being. The creative tools include improvisation, puppetry, music, storytelling and collaborative media production.
The project responds to calls for more research and novel methods to document the characteristics of this under-represented group. As Sarah Wild states, headteacher at Limpsfield Grange (the only UK specialist school for autistic girls and a project partner):
We’re trying to get politicians to understand that this is a group who are massively under-diagnosed, but also that there are not the right services out there for them or the awareness, including GPs who don’t understand what female autism looks like.