Kelly Hunter

shakespeare & autism

Click here to watch video

I have created a distinctive methodology, The Hunter Heartbeat Method, which uses Shakespeare to release the communicative blocks within children with Autism.

Two major themes underpin the work: the rhythm of the Iambic Pentameter, which creates the sound of a heartbeat, within which the children feel safe to communicate. Second is an exploration of the Mind's Eye, allowing children to explore imaginative worlds, which may otherwise be locked away.

The work encompasses all levels of Autism including working with children who are non-verbal.

This methodology is being studied as a long-term research project at Ohio State University.

Edition 3, February 2013

My article describing the work is now published - Read article here.


This film, documenting the early games of the methodology can be seen on The Routledge Performance Archive

"Kelly and her team of actors worked for three years in a unit for children with autism at the Glebe School in Kent. Using Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream as a starting point, they worked with the children creating games and exercises, which could alleviate symptoms of the children's autism. This DVD shows the children and actors demonstrating the games, beginning with non-verbal easy exercises and progressing through to challenging games using Shakespeare's texts and narratives. The games are simple and fun to play, being specifically designed to improve the children's communication skills. All the games and exercises can be played in a group, and can also be adapted for one-to-one therapeutic work. The film shows how positively children with severe autism can respond to stimulating ideas. It would be useful in training."