T0 Celebrate Autism Awareness Month I want to share a snippet of an experience because dance movement therapy has the power to reach the autistic child, to begin a new conversation with life and to develop this communication
‘Dancing in Dialogue’
A young boy entered into the session one day walking erratically – stopping very briefly every few minutes, pausing and then continuing again. He did not want to engage in any movement activity at all. The only time he seemed to respond was when his favourite bedtime song was played toward the end where he would slow his quick seemingly anxious state to a calmer, slow seemingly inquisitive state.
I would meet him in his moments of calm, also, in his walking, and at times interject a different movement close either by him or on the other side of the room. We met each week and this went on for a good year! Suddenly one day he began to join me. We were moving together…..wonderful, we were talking through our dance! Thus began a new dialogue and relationship.
The opening to connecting with those children with autism is from where the children are, because where they are is right! Asking always what language I shall use here. Is it silence through the body? Is it a movement?
Communication is always there even if at times it seems like there is nothing. This nothing speaks volumes as I say to the parents who are desperately trying to cope and understand.
This dialogue will one day change. It seemed like it never would with this young boy but it did. Meeting through movement for this boy and was the birth of something new …His caregiver had tears in her eyes.
As Christine Devereaux Ph.D. of the American Dance Therapy Association explains:
“Feeling understood, for all of us, is a biological imperative. People with autism are no exception. Neither are their parents and families. Therefore, the major strength that dance/movement therapy has in working with people with autism is its ability to produce treatment outcomes in the area of social relatedness, especially in the formation of relationships. The journey into truly understanding autism requires resonance into their language, we can begin to do this by first making human to human contact…...the first way to do this is through our bodies”.