(WFRV) -- Lights, Camera, Action! A new program is changing the way we look at Autism, by putting kids in the spotlight.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University are using the theater to help improve the lives of kids diagnosed with the disorder.
"We really want to understand whether these social experiences are really stressful for some of our children," said Doctor Blythe Corbett.
Doctor Corbett looks at social and communication skills before, during and after the camp. She then looks at stress levels, by measuring one of the primary stress hormones called Cortisol.
In three different studies, Doctor Corbett found acting improved the way kids expressed themselves and they also showed lower stress levels.
"The Cortisol level was quite high when they first arrived the first day but after the rehearsal, it actually went down quite a bit," said Doctor Corbett.
For most people, Cortisol level production tends to be greater in the morning than at night. But Doctor Corbett's research found children with autism show higher Cortisol toward the end of the day. That's related to daily stress from changes experienced during the day.