As World Autism Awareness Day was held last Monday, this year marks the first time that the new intervention program – known as Cognitive Behaviour Drama (CBD) – was showcased and celebrated the day in it’s first premises in Athens.

The CBD program is a unique intervention program specifically designed for high functioning children with autism and Asperger syndrome.
Greek Australian doctor, Dr Haris Karnezi, who specialises in this program, said that the CBD model was introduced for the first time in Australia in 2009 at the Asian Pacific Autism Conference and was piloted in Melbourne at the Western Autistic School, with great success. Since, then the CBD has travelled to Monterrey (Mexico), NY, Long Island, San Diego (USA), and recently found a home in Athens, Greece. Originally developed at Trinity College in Dublin, this year is the first time the Cognitive Behaviour Drama Centre is showcasing World Autism Awareness Day in its own premises in Greece.

The centre is dedicated to offering children on the higher end of the autism spectrum the opportunity to benefit from a unique social skills program that merges together the science of psychology with the art form of drama. It is also offering training on the CBD model to professionals in the field of autism.

CBD is a research based intervention model that brought together the science of psychology with the art form of drama to create an unobtrusive approach that would provide high functioning children with autism and Asperger syndrome the opportunity to explore the rules of social interaction and develop competencies associated with communicative success.

The method involves engaging the participants in exciting fictional scenarios and encouraging them to seek various solutions on numerous problems that will lead them to an understanding of causal relationships (e.g. how a different course of action / behaviour may affect the outcome of an interaction).
The overriding aim of the program is to help individuals on the autism spectrum understand the unspoken rules of social interaction and discover the pleasure of communication. Drama is used as a means to entice them into engaging in social interactions and providing them with positive experiences that will reinforce further engagement, thereby more learning opportunities.

World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated by autism organisations around the world every year on 2 April. The aim of the day is to increase people’s awareness about individuals with autism, and especially children.