Dance and movement have great benefits for people with or without disabilities. Not only is it a great fun way to get fit and exercise, it helps us grow our social skills and gross motor skills. It encourages creativity and imagination all while improving a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Movement is a universal language that is expressed through our bodies and is a way to communicate our emotions and feelings.
Personally, I use it as a way to escape the stresses of my everyday life. An escape from my worries even if it is just for a few hours. It taught me about discipline, creativity, and a way to express myself and feelings all while making lifelong friendships in a positive and safe environment.
For individuals with a disability such as autism, orthopedic impairment, and learning disability to name a few, dance can play a huge part in helping them succeed in life, boost their confidence, social and communication skills, and improve self-esteem and attentiveness. This art form is all about practice, learning the steps, and repeating them over and over. It helps promote memorization and is very routine and structured. This also helps individuals with an orthopedic impairment and mobility limitations by helping to strengthen their muscles, having them move parts of the body with which they are most comfortable, and expressing themselves in ways that may be more comfortable for some. Using your body and movement to express how you are feeling and conveying a character or mood through music and dance can be very beneficial for individuals with anxiety or PTSD and individuals who are shy and more reserved.
According to Mary Ellen Hunt, a former dancer, now a teacher, writes about dance and the arts for the San Francisco Chronicle. “If an autistic student takes your class, you have the chance to make a huge impact in the child’s development. There is evidence that movement classes are enormously beneficial to ASD children, helping develop coordination and balance, speech, self-discipline and social skills. But determining if you can handle this student will depend on the child’s behavior patterns.”
Christina Devereaux Ph.D., BC-DMT writes “It is important to note that the intention is to first understand the person with autism, to join with them, and then to help them modify their communication in a way so that repetitive restrictive behaviors can become channeled, the nervous system can settle, and social engagement can begin. This is dance/movement therapy’s starting point.”
For more information about where you can get assistance if you or someone you know has a disability, please contact NMPASI at 235-7273/4 or online at www.nmpasi.org or to learn about the benefits of dance and movement classes, please check out these websites:
NMPASI client advocate