Two days ago during a wonderful conversation with a developmental service worker student at Grandview Children’s Center we ended up speaking about how much I felt dance had helped C.
Dance has helped his confidence, and it’s given him a sense of belonging because of being on a team. But it’s given him more than even that. C used to stim allot and I never stopped him. I felt that he was doing what he needed to feel okay and that mattered more to me than other people’s opinions.
I do a lot of looking at his behaviors and thinking about potentially “socially acceptable” behaviors that are similar. I do that because I want to give him as many choices as I can for him to have in regards to how he wishes to interact with the world around him. So when I looked at dance I noticed how someone with a natural affinity to what the world might view as random movement could be utilized wonderfully in various styles of dance. I also figured that at bare minimum he’d have an additional social skill in his repertoire. At best my theory that he’d utilize it when he needed a form of stimming that would be deemed more socially acceptable than straight out hand flapping or rocking would be accurate.
About 3 months into his lessons I noticed that he wasn’t flapping his hands or twirling or rocking as often. Instead he was randomly breakdancing. Now I would LOVE for society to stop being so darn judgmental (and I’m working on helping to increase not just awareness but more importantly acceptance) However, until that day comes I still want my sons to have options. NOT on how “to be fake to fit in” but on various alternatives that are just as physically, and emotionally satisfying to them as their original choices.
Why you ask? Doesn’t that mean I’m full of it when I say that I love my boys just as they are? NOPE It means that it is my job as their mother to give them every available tool I can think of so that THEY can choose which actions they wish to utilize in any setting they find themselves in.
See never once have I suggested my sons stop stimming in public, ever! Because I understand that it helps them and all I want is happy children so why not let them be themselves! I have however asked my eldest why he’s chosen to dance instead of twirling or flapping his hands and he said to me “Dance is controlled movement. I can get my energy out more and it feels even better in my whole body than the other stuff I used to do” You can see it when he dances too, I wrote previously about how something seems to click within him while he’s on a dance floor and it’s a thing of beauty to watch. (That post is here)
I told “D” that I was sad that Grandview had music therapy but NOT dance therapy and after she’d listened to me ramble on and on about my boys, and about all I just wrote about above, she said she was going to look into research about dance as a form of therapy for Autism. (Not to “CURE” because I find that word so darn offensive about Autism. But that’s another long expletive laden post) But if what my son says is accurate for other children in addition to himself than this could potentially help many other children to have something else to choose from. NOT because their original stimming was wrong, but because I think we should all have options that we get to choose from as to which one works best for us and for each of the myriad of situations we will eventually find ourselves in. By exposing children to various options while keeping our opinions to ourselves (Unless that opinion is the fantastic one of “Each person has a right to be happy, if _____ is your bliss than as your ______ support you in your choices”) I think it’s giving our children more options to choose what they truly want to do in whatever situation they find themselves in. That my dear readers is freedom. Freedom to be and feel and behave in whatever ways are their bliss. That freedom allows them to thrive and soar and there’s nothing more beautiful to watch than someone soaring free, being true to themselves and loving every moment of it.