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Soundscape: A multi-sensory sound experience for children with special needs and ASD

Helium Art’s Soundscape was developed by sound artist Slavek Kwi and performer & puppeteer Niamh Lawlor with a group of children at Kolbe Special School, Portlaoise, Co. Laois in May 2019 and presented as a day of intimate experiences for two families per session at Cabra Library as part of Creative Ireland and Dublin City Council’s Cruinniú na nÓg on 15th June 2019.

Slavek and Niamh performing Soundscape at Cabra Library as part of Cruinniú na nÓg. Photograph by Kristy Hal.

The experience gave children with ASD and their families the opportunity to interact with a friendly alien who could communicate using only sounds and gestures. This alien was accompanied by a puppeteer who translated and interpreted his sounds using puppets and found objects. 

“It was such a pleasure to watch our children adapting to their surroundings and exploring the world of sound.” –Father of daughter aged 6 and siblings aged 5 & 3

Soundscape was devised by Slavek and Niamh over three days in Kolbe Special School. They created sound and sensory environments for thirty children using a mix of home-made and purchased percussion instruments, tactile and auditory objects, and puppets. 

“My daughter was calmer and happier than she’s been in months after Soundscape” Father of daughter aged 9

 

Performer and puppeteer Niamh Lawlor with Soundscape participants. Photograph by Kristy Hal.

As part of Cruinniú na nÓg six families entered Soundscape and met Slavek, the friendly alien. Niamh guided the children and adults through the space inviting them to make sounds with the objects and communicate with Slavek. Children were free to observe and interact as much as they felt comfortable, exploring the room and its contents on their own terms. 

“Thank you for a really interesting experience yesterday. The children certainly revelled in the freedom to go be & make noise!” –Mother of sons aged 6 & 8

 

Soundscape is a Helium Arts production, devised by sound artist Slavek Kwi and puppeteer Niamh Lawlor. The project was supported by Kolbe Special School, Portlaoise and Dublin City Council via Creative Ireland’s Cruinniú na nÓg.

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