The Power of Dance For Children With ASD
Updated: Jan 10
Dance is so much more than the art it’s known to be. It’s a form of expression, a way to release energy, and can be used so simply to bring a smile to anyone who chooses to do so, in any way they know how!
My name is Izzy, and I am a hip-hop instructor here at Cloud Dance & Fitness Network. Hip-Hop has been my favourite style since I started dancing about 15 years ago. I was able to continue my passion for hip-hop while studying my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology through being a part of Laurier’s hip-hop team, ALIAS. I was given the opportunity to complete an undergraduate thesis and combine a topic near and dear to my heart- DANCE! Being in a degree that focuses so heavily on the way our body moves allowed me to explore dance from a new perspective.
My research surrounded a family with a child who had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and participated in recreational dance classes at a local studio. One of the purposes of my research was to examine how being involved in a recreational dance program affected the child’s signs and symptoms, in turn, affecting their family functioning. Results from this study warmed my heart, and made me feel the true powers of dance. This child was able to grow both socially and as a person, while expressing herself – something that is often difficult for those with ASD. I was able to interview the child’s dance instructor, who shared the most beautiful words about this child and their progress:
“…I love watching her dance. I love watching her in the studio, and I think it’s, it’s a great, it’s a nice little home for her, a home away from home…. I’m really happy that she’s there and she found us and like, I found her I guess.”
The dance instructor also shared some truly amazing words about the importance of dance and inclusivity:
“Dancing is more than just tutus and trophies, it is a means of expression for many people and I believe that children with disabilities, and all children for that matter, can benefit greatly through dance/movement training.”
And you know what… SHE IS RIGHT!
Although my study focused on one child and one specific disability, it opened my eyes to research that justifies these results, as well as benefits seen in other disabilities and the use of dance. From my research and new knowledge, most simply put, dance is a means of expression. A way for anyone of any ability to participate in and enjoy. Many children may not enjoy or be able to participate in typical everyday forms of sport and physical activity such as soccer, baseball, basketball… etc. However, dance is known for its’ ability to be modified and adapted to all who choose to participate in it. Music brings a smile to everyone’s face, as well as the ability to move in a way you know how. Dance can bring physical and emotional benefits to those with disabilities and as you may have noticed from our Cloud classes it is FUN! I hope to continue my research in dance and disabilities in my new venture of my Master’s in Kinesiology this fall at Wilfird Laurier University.
I hope to come to you with even more info about the powers of dance and how inclusive it can be. Ultimately, dance brings joy! Dance brings light! And dance can be experienced right here on the Cloud Dance & Fitness Network at any time, no matter what age, level, or ability. I am so proud to be part of Team Cloud and to be given the opportunity to share my love of dance with everyone, in an inclusive and welcoming way.
Remember – always reach for the clouds!