Saturday, October 11, 2008

Perpetual Motion

A professional dance company called, has choreographed a new work, beyond words, which premiered in Wichita recently. JoyMama at Elvis Sightings shares her dad's impressions of it. It was favorably reviewed in the Wichita Eagle. And also in more detail at Taking the Scenic Route.

How cool to see the performing arts using autism as a theme--building acceptance and awareness in the process. I am filled with admiration and curiosity about this company and their choreographer. Here is a clip of them instructing a group of teens with special needs. Apparently, they have taken the cause to heart and are gifted in using their own talents to develop others. Another apprenticeship model.

Dance dance dance! Do all kids with autism love to dance? I know Reid does. It is one of many behaviors that was sooo cute when he was younger and sooo not at all cool now that he's a teen. Bummer, because people merely watch him and get energized. Turn music on and he's bustin' a move like none you've ever seen.

Boys need to move to learn. I love the work of Carla Hannaford (Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All in Your Head) and Cecelia Freeman (I am the Child) who support movement as a requisite way to switch the brain on for learning. The freedom of homeschooling allowed for lots of purposeful movement in Reid 's early years. Interactive metronome technology, which we did during the try-it-all hey day of his early childhood, is basically keeping time with hands and feet to a recorded tick-tock sound. Only, it's not that fun and lacks any significant social interaction.

Once he had completed the IM protocol, I made the giant mental leap of transferring those skills to tap dancing--which is really fun if you wannabe Gene Kelly and are obsessed with the best musical of all time, Singin' in the Rain. Having landed on a fantastic, local, male teacher who was up for it, Reid began his brief stint as a hoofer. It was a grand couple months of percussion with the feet and building a relationship with Louis. In his imagination, Reid was Donald O'Connor, the talented ham. And Louis was Gene Kelly, the rugged, masculine, athletic dandy with all the moves...and mirrors surrounding them so they could watch themselves. What could be more thrilling?!

I have to include this clip of Moses Supposes from Singin' in the Rain. For one, it offers a Biblical tie-in. And, who among us wouldn't love to do this with one of those district stick-in-the-mud speech therapists?! Telling the articulation coach to take his long a vowel sound and ----- it! in the nicest way possible.

Reid did this all by himself once, a long time ago. At about 5 years old, he was upstairs in our little "office classroom" with a speech therapist from the district during his preschool home program days. She told him, "only one more time" of some torturous game and then he'd get to do...x y z (whatever preferred task was the reward of the day). Well, it is one of my favorite recorded moments we have on video. His touche to the whole ABA discrete trail annoyance. He performed the obligatory one more time and doesn't she then say, "OK, now let's do this...," breaking her promise; making herself a liar; and ruining any trust Reid may have had in her. Under his breath yet clear as a bell, practically into the microphone, Reid said, "I'm not surprised." Then, he complied which is even more amazing.

One more on the same tapping theme, just for kicks! Snuffy and Savion in his younger days. (Don't get me started on Happy Feet.)

They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about. Job 21:10-12

Then Miriam the prophet, Moses’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced. Exodus 15:19-21

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might... 2 Samuel 6:13-15


  1. Hi Andrea, thanks for the "plug" (at Autism Unplugged, I love it!!)

    This dance company and performance have really grabbed my imagination... I'm in preliminary conversations about how to bring them to my neck of the woods when they tour next year...

    Another cool autism-and-dance (or autism-AS-dance) video is at 4 Green and Speckled Frogs!

  2. Great post with some super links.
    My son loves to dance too and is a joy to watch :)