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Therapeutic use of soap operas in autistic-spectrum disorders

  • Lynda Breen (a1)
Extract

‘Soap opera’ is a popular television genre that ‘invites the audience to … identify with characters' (Livingstone, 1990). Storylines tend to be shaped by national and local culture, although they may feature a disproportionate number of unstable relationships and tragedies (Liebes & Livingstone, 1998). Narratives evolve continually, allowing scriptwriters to incite viewer debate on myriad topical social issues, including mental illness (Reveley, 1997).

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
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Therapeutic use of soap operas in autistic-spectrum disorders

  • Lynda Breen (a1)
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eLetters

Slippery Slope of "Soap" Therapy's use in Autism

Gaurav Kohli, Specialist Registrar in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
16 February 2007

I read Dr Breen's article with great interest.I am concerned about certain risks which could significantly be increasedif a young person who has a diagnosis of autism is introduced to this therapy without prior understanding of any individual risk vulnerabilites of the young person.Tape recording of soap operas as apart of homework should be viewed with caution as sometimes young people with autism might wish to play again andagain the same sequence .This sequence if depicting particularly violent or sexual behaviour could actually be imitated with great regard to details in the future .It is also noteworthy that though Dr Breen correctly highlights the importanceof parental supervision whilst young people watch soaps it is extremely difficult if a parent tries to censor part of an episode or whole episode as young people find it difficult to understand why they are being stopped from watching the programme especially when it becomes part of their circumscribed interest.This could lead to challenging behaviour towards care givers which in its extreme could even lead to physical assault.Young people with autism could tend to focus on part of the plot rather than gather the entire plot in perspective.This is especially important ifthey only focus on an especially negative or violent footage of the episode and are unable to understand the context in which such violence took place. Therapist aim to help them understand complex dynamics and social vocabulary could be significantly hampered by young person's intense focus on only one part and inability to understand the entire episode.I would suggest media being such a powerful tool , a good start could be to expose them to some programmes which are age appropiate which deliver only positive message and are completely non controversial such as parablebased animation movies .Once this has been achieved gradual exposure to soaps is advisable under caution and supervision . ... More

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