A North Carolina mom knew she had to take matters into her own hands so her daughter would have the chance to dance.
Kim Smith has a seven-year-old daughter who couldn’t find the perfect dance class in her area. Her little Reagan is actually dealing with both autism and sensory process disorder.
According to the STAR Institute, a person with sensory processing disorder cannot detect or organize sensory signals into appropriate responses. This is why an affected person tends to suffer from various behavioral problems and motor clumsiness. On the other hand, autism is a spectrum disorder that presents social, behavioral, speech and nonverbal communications challenges to a person. According to Autism Speaks, both environmental and genetic influences can affect autism. For Smith, these disorders made it especially hard to find a suitable dance class.
“There weren’t any that was a good fit for her with her being low functioning,” Smith explained. For her, it was “heartbreaking” that Reagan wouldn’t fit in any dance class at all. That is why she decided to come up with a class that would cater to Reagan’s needs and of those like her instead.
A dance class that welcomes everyone.
“I wanted to try something that would be all inclusive to any child, whether they’re high functioning, low functioning, somewhere in the middle. Just somewhere where everybody can fit it,” Smith explained. The result was an enjoyable dance class where everybody is welcome and where everyone can feel proud of his or her dancing abilities.
“I’m a little person but when we get on that stage, we’re all the same,” eight-year-old Ava Whipple said. She was diagnosed with dwarfism and finds dancing to be an amazing experience. “It makes me feel extremely happy and big,” she told NBC’s Today.
While in class, the students get to learn all kinds of dance. There’s the bean bag dance, freestyle, tap and more. At the same time, the children also get to show off their acrobatic skills as they learn to make perfect cartwheels in class.
These special needs kids learn to be competitive too.
Recently, A Chance To Dance was proud to announce that four of its dancers will be joining a competition in Raleigh to represent Junior Novice. One will do a solo performance, while the rest will participate in duo and trio dance numbers. “We really wanted to give these children the opportunity to compete alongside typical peers,” Smith explained.
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