Every week during term time, Matthew & Daniel go to a special needs dance class at the Deeside Dance Centre in Banchory. Its organised by SCILLS, a local charity for supporting special needs children. There’s been a steady core of about half a dozen kids going, with a varying array of needs, though up until recently its been the boys ASDs and 3 Downs girls. SCILLs have been getting their message out there though and there’s been another four kids that have been coming regularly. I think two of them are ASD and the other two are Downs.
The great thing about the mix of special needs is that the boys have learned that first of all, they’re not alone in being different. There are others there in the same boat as them, and they don’t need to feel isolated. Its an environment where they are safe and comfortable with no one around to judge them. Second, they have learned to tolerate the differences in others. To them, the others in the class are who they are. The boys don’t see a girl with Downs, or a boy with an ASD. They see a girl with brown hair, or a boy with a red shirt. Like the boys, their special needs are just part of them. Its great to see the boys just accept other people for who they are. Its a lesson a lot of people would do well to learn.
On Saturday, it was the end of their current six-week block (another block starts next week) which meant a little performance for all the parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and carers. Because the class is up to double figures now, there were a lot of people in the studio. The first thing that struck me was how free all the kids seemed. They recognise that they’re in an environment in which they can fully express themselves without fear of hearing “you can’t do that.” And it showed. All they could see was people there encouraging them to let themselves go, appreciating their every effort. You could see the happiness on their faces, and it was infectious. They may all have special needs, but the key word is “special” and that’s what I hope they were feeling. They are all special in their own ways, and its crucial that they be allowed to express themselves and understand who they are. It really was amazing to see their joy coming out.
It was lovely to see the SCILLS organiser come out for the performance (thanks to Jane’s blog postings on SCILLS) to see what a huge difference their support is making for all the kids there. Not only are the allowed to express themselves, but its helping them develop just a little bit more. Its been a terrific opportunity for them all, and its been grabbed by several pairs of hands. A little bit of help really can go a long way.