For about two years, I have been trying to get “Ballerina” in a dance class. I had tried many local dance studios and other facilities that offer “dance,” but I had no luck. No one would get back with me when I told them that my daughter was autistic, or they informed me that they wouldn't be able to address her needs. I tried to figure out ways to include her in what I was sure would be her favorite activity. But everything I tried didn't work. That is until the end of this summer, when I asked my neighbor (who happens to be a dance instructor) for her recommendation.
At the time, I didn't realize that she was just opening a dance studio. And she didn't realize that I had been trying to do this for this long. She didn't intend to do this, but the day or two before that conversation, she had hired a dance teacher who had experience working with special needs children. That afternoon, we hatched a plan. And on October 1, 2011, it became a reality.
A Special Needs dance class at The Studio of Dance became a reality. On that day, “Ballerina” got up early in the morning and dressed in her leotard with the ballerina skirt and she went to a dance class that was designed with her in mind. This class teaches her ballet and tap. And she may or may not excel. But she will have fun. And she will learn to do things correctly so that she doesn't hurt herself. But she can be the "Ballerina". She can embrace this strong desire she has had for as long as I can remember to DANCE and develop a true appreciation for the art form.
That first class, and in several since, I have watched this talented teacher show the small number of kids enrolled how to dance. I see my little girl posing for the mirror. I see her having fun.
And without fail, every Saturday morning, when we return home, she continues to dance for the rest of the day. She moves her arms with grace and beauty. She watches her skirt flow behind her as she runs around. She proves to me that she is definitely my ballerina.
I did good. And so did The Studio Of Dance. Thanks to them for giving my perfect daughter, who happens to have autism and ADHD, a chance to do what all little girls should have the opportunity to try. A chance to DANCE!!!!!!!!
But this story is not over yet. When this class was added to the schedule, we knew we needed to get at least 3 children to participate. I felt we were addressing an “unmet need” and that people would be flocking to the school to sign their children up. But that simply hasn't happened. I still believe that this is addressing that unmet need, but people don't seem to know about it. And unless other children are registered, they will have no choice but to cancel the class, or at least not offer it again for the next registration period.
So, for the sake of my daughter, I am asking for anyone reading this article who has a child with autism or knows a child with autism who would love to learn to dance to consider looking into the program offered at The Studio of Dance.