We started looking for extracurricular activities for our son, who is on the autism spectrum, when he was in preschool. We knew the typical sports would not be a good fit for him. While he is verbal, he does have limited communication and many processing delays. I know preschool sports are not highly structured or intense activities, but I also know my son. He is not interested in kicking a ball — instead, he would prefer to gather the balls and line them up (and he would have most likely lined up the cones as well).
We needed to find an activity where he could socialize with other kids and adults, but his teammates would not be dependent on him to perform themselves. A friend told us about a dance studio in our town that accepts children with all abilities. The studio offers both conservatory and integrated classes, as well as therapeutic classes for children and adults with more limited abilities. So we tried a class, and my son enjoyed it. We stuck with it the next year — and every year since.
Every September, when it’s time to think about the next year’s classes, I wonder if we should re-enroll.
“Should we try something else?” I think. “Will he be bullied at school for taking dance lessons? Does he mind that he is the only boy?”
Ultimately, we always stick with dance. Because he loves it!
Like, he really LOVES it! He loves the recital and performing on the big stage. The choreography is right up his alley, and he often reminds his dance teacher if she does the wrong step. He is constantly dancing at home. And if his teachers put music on at school for indoor recess, he will dance there too. It gives him joy and pride. He knows and loves his “dance girls.” We are truly grateful for dance and this studio. They even allowed my son and my daughter to perform a short duet last year to a song my son composed on his iPad. I mean, how cool is that!
When the recital was over this year and we gave my son flowers to congratulate him, he said, “Oh my, I am so happy — I have the tears of joy!” So, dear son, you go on dancing. Watching you dance gives us all immense joy. We are so proud of you.