Function Schmunction is a project all about celebrating and creating opportunities for authentic autistic play, joy and connection. The project seeks to include autistic individuals and their communities of all ages, life experiences, interests and needs.
The project is devised and led by autistic artist and play worker Max Alexander (also known as Play Radical!) in collaboration with/produced by Independent Arts Projects.
The project includes the Function Schmunction playground which had its first outing in Edinburgh during July 2023. The space includes myriad opportunities to dive into the senses and imagination with an endlessly deflating ball pit, hideaways for nesting, sonic plumbing devices to explore sounds and voice and a space to commune with pebbles and sticks. The space was created by Max and informed by over fifty individual play sessions with autistic participants that took place in parks, woodlands, living rooms, day centres and school classrooms.
Photos: Geraldine Heaney
Function Schmunction is also an exploration of what autistic play culture is and can be. Autistic play is something that has been and continues to be misunderstood, invisibilized and at worst pathologised and prevented. Function Schmunction provides an affirming and creative alternative lens always from an autistic perspective.
Max Alexander is a play worker, visual artist and consultant who specialises in working with children and young people who are disabled and/or have additional support needs. Max has ten years’ experience working with this population across school, playground, and community settings.
Max’s experience includes 5 years as Playworker at The Yard in Edinburgh, and at Artlink Edinburgh where he has worked for the past 3 years delivering 1-to-1 personalised play and art sessions for young people excluded from mainstream arts activities.
Max creates and co-creates spaces for play, exploration, and connection with a focus on neurodivergent joy and ways of relating. Max is passionate about access to artistic, playful, and creative experiences for neurodivergent and disabled individuals and the idea of beautiful creative accessibility is central to his work. You can learn more about Max at playradical.com.
Function Schmunction is a project developed by Glasgow-based Artist and Playworker Max Alexander as part of the Sensory Collective.
Sensory Collective is a 21-month long project exploring sensory arts practice across Scotland for Autists, people with PMLD and those living with Dementia. It is an Independent Arts Projects (IAP) project and 1 of 26 participative arts projects supported by Culture Collective and funded by Scottish Government emergency Covid-19 funds through Creative Scotland.
Independent Arts Projects (IAP) works with some of Scotland’s most talented and innovative artists and theatre makers to develop, produce and tour a programme of productions, arts projects, events and opportunities for people across Scotland and beyond. www.independentartsprojects.com