Every once in awhile I am reminded that when I listen to my gut with Michael, it is as powerful as when listen to my gut about my own life. I have been seeing over the past couple of months, how he has enjoyed performing new dance moves. I’m not really sure where it originated from. I thought it was a friend at school that was dancing, but Michael assured me that no, he likes to dance now. And I mean, hip hop style dancing. So, when I found myself at a special needs related conference for business in November, and saw dancers performing that taught children with autism and special needs how to move and feel good and confident in their bodies, well, it was just a matter of time before Michael would be dancing in their group. I had no idea this group existed prior to this. Watching them dance and get the whole room of all ages moving, and watching the brother of one the dancers who has autism dance, filled my eyes with tears. I knew this was something I wanted Michael to do, that he could and would enjoy doing. Then it was up to me to convince him to try. This was the rough part.
The months between November and end of January when the next round of courses started were tough ones on the behavior front for Michael, but after showing him some videos and finding out as a beautiful coincidence that a friend from school has been enrolled in the program for two years and loves it, we took the plunge. His father was nervous. It wasn’t cheap (no extra curricular activity for kids is), and he was worried that it wasn’t the right fit. I didn’t know either if it would work, but from the time Michael was born he was a performer. I remember him singing children’s songs and moving around, playing on his toy piano, and now making up games with his figurines and pretend play games with his friends. Mostly though, he has responded to music since birth, and sang before he talked.
When the door of the dance studio opened after his first class, his father and I waited holding our breath. But I knew. I’d heard the hip hop music. I’d heard the songs that he is familiar with from the radio playing, but most importantly, I’d heard one of his instructors shouting, “Go Michael, Go Michael.” Then he came running out with his classmates. Pure joy and delight radiated from his face. And then he added words,
“Mommy, I love dance class! Thank you so much for bringing me! Do I get to come back for more sessions?”
We had told him that we would see if he liked it. The studio had told us that if it didn’t work, we just had to pay for one class and did not have to commit to the whole sixteen week session. But seeing his face, I knew we were in.
“Yes, you do honey. I’m so glad you liked. Daddy and I are very happy you had fun.”
He hugged both of us, we paid, and left. All last week he talked about his second dance class. It was a great success and the teachers invited the parents in to watch. I was so proud of him moving, posturing, but most important of all, having fun. He looks so forward to showing his teachers and friends all his made up “dances.” There are now three weekend dances and a garlic dance. We are just happy he is having fun, trying something new, and getting confident in himself.
Exceptional Parents, do you listen to your gut when it comes to choosing activities for your Exceptional Child? If not, think twice about doing it. No one knows your child better than you, and you will most likely be able to judge where they’ll fit best. And always encourage them to try new things while you do the same in your life. Until next time.