Tunisia – Children with Down syndrome express themselves through theater
Source: A24 Tunisia
Restriction: A24 subscribers
There are many early intervention programs designed to address developmental delays that children with Down syndrome who have different levels of intellectual disability may experience, such as physical therapy programs, educational programs, speech therapy, as well as drama therapy.
Drama teacher Lutfi Akrami was able to draw a smile on the face of the Tunisian girl with Down syndrome, Alaa Al-Obeidi, and modify her behavior, through drama games inside the Children’s Theater Academy in the capital, Tunis.
Akrami, who specializes in treating patients with Down syndrome and modifying behavioral disorders in children through theater and drama games, said that he chose this field to help this group of children and integrate them into society.
Soundbite (Lotfi Al-Akrami – Actor and drama teacher)
“Since 2010, I started doing research on this topic because we have a case in the family. I was very interested in analytical psychology, especially child psychology, including those with mental and behavioral disorders and learning difficulties. It is true that in Tunisia they have centers to take care of them but they remain isolated from society. I specialize in play therapy and modify behavioral disorders in children through drama games. How? Here the child must exist among other normal children in order to communicate with them, learn from them, and challenge himself. He may want to get out of his comfort zone, imitating other children, and even outdoing them.”
Soundbite (Wala’a – Alaa Al-Obeidi’s sister)
“Before, people used to pity us and give us that look which hurt me, but after my sister acted in a series, people started asking to film with us. She improved more when she started studying here at the academy.”
Soundbite (Fatima Al-Werfalli – Alaa Al-Obeidi’s mother):
“She got used to teacher Lotfi, because she felt that he really loved her, so she became so attached to him and to the theater that when she slowed down to do something outside the academy, I would tell her, “Today I will not take you to the theater,” so she speeds up and does all her duties.”
Soundbite (Lotfi Al-Akrami – Actor and drama teacher):
“So far, I can say that the success rate is 100%. Alaa Al-Obaidi suffers from Down Syndrome and you can see that she is an example of a successful child. I refuse to describe them as different children, but rather they are people of determination. Alaa Al-Obaidi amazed me when she was able to participate in so many plays. She memorized the script and did everything I asked of her with the rest of the children, and if I asked for something, she volunteered first. She also acted in the Tunisian series Al-Hariqa in its second season, and became famous at the local level.