Is your local school or community center offering a dance class specifically for kids on the autism spectrum? Even if your child shows no interest in dance right now, giving them a chance to try stretching their muscles and playing with creativity could pay off with big rewards. Find out how the movement and action of dance classes help autistic children learn and grow.
Dance is Great Exercise
Children on the autism spectrum have some of the lowest recorded levels of regular exercise among kids with common developmental disorders. Dance is a great exercise for building both muscle tone and cardiovascular endurance. A lack of exercise leads to further problems like
- Difficulty focusing
- Unwanted movements and activity during quiet times, like riding on the bus
- Trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night.
Dance is often the most attractive form of exercise for autistic kids because it involves repetitive movements. Skilled class teachers can find each student's favorite types of movement and help them create their own routine that acts as an artistic form of self-stimulation for managing stress, also known as stimming.
Dance Increases Empathy
Difficulties with empathizing is a common struggle among autistic children, but many teachers and parents find that encouraging mirroring is a great way to teach their kids how to read emotions. Since dance involves students mirroring the exact movements of the teacher, this kind of practice naturally builds the skills an autistic child needs to read the emotions of others. Developing better mirroring skills leads to increased empathy, even without a specific focus on building this kind of skill.
Dance Offers an Alternative Form of Communication
When struggling with a child that has no noticeable communication methods, dance can serve as a last resort for making contact with a completely inward personality. Encouraging a child to start with basic movements is the easiest way to reach out, and many non-verbal students learn how to express themselves through dance instead. Making a bridge to communication through dance could be the start of a deeper relationship with your child.
Dance Doesn't Require Special Skills
You might think of dance as something only trained professionals can do, but anyone can find joy in moving their body in a creative way. If your child suffers from low self esteem because of how their autism sets them apart from their peers, developing dance skills can help them find their own place in the world. You might even find out that your child has what it takes to become a professional dancer!Share