This weekend was a big weekend in our little home. My oldest danced on stage in a show. And for the first time in three years I actually got to watch her dance and yes I cried. My daughter loves her dance class, she loves dancing and she adores her teachers but it has not always been easy for her. On a sensory level it can be very challenging. But we are incredibly lucky we found dancing teachers who nurture their students. Over the four plus years my daughter has been attending her dancing classes I have watched her confidence soar thanks to these loving teachers.
We have had difficult times, times when the music was loud and trigger all her sensory avoidance instincts but she was determined and she continued dancing using some ear-muffs to damped the noise (and the teachers happily allowed her too). In the first 2 years she never wore tights with her uniform, at that stage the feeling of tights on her skin was still too much for her to handle, she described it like scissors on her skin, the teachers did not make a big deal she danced with pale pink leggings under her leotard. During class when she got over-excited and started reaching her sensory limits she would start flapping her arms or jump continuously, I am sure that must have been very distracting for the teachers but they never made a big deal about it. When she did go over her limit and end up in tears her teachers always had a big hug for her and they always kindly spoke to me about it so they I could monitor how she was coping.
Then three years ago I heard that she was going to be in her first show and I was SCARED, I was not sure if she would cope but she loved her dancing soo much so we tried. I organised with the teachers that I could be backstage and in-between shows she sat on my lap with her ear-muffs on, I read to her and body brushed her but she did it. She danced in two shows and she LOVED IT.
The following year she danced in a show again and again I organised to be backstage but although she insisted I was there she barely needed me. I actually spent most of the time helping the other dancers with their costumes. Now the third year and again she asked if I could be backstage but this year for the first time she was happy with me actually watching when she was on stage (in prior years I was not allowed to move while she danced, she needed to know exactly where I was). This year she allowed another person to fix her hair and put in hair pieces (if you have a sensory child this is massive, my daughter hates having her hair brushed and never wears a tight ponytail or extra hair accessories, but for the show she did, she was determined). And my husband and I watched like hawks, she did not flap her arms, chew her tongue or do any of those little sensory twitches, she danced and she loved it.
Afterwards she was EXHAUSTED. That Exhausted when she could hardly move and had no energy to play or engage. But she did it. SHE DID IT !!!
For a sensory child who battles to wear certain clothing because she can not filter out that sore feeling of how it feels on her skin, she spent hours in costume with hair pieces in. For a sensory child who hears every small sound amplified, who can not register what is background noise and filter it out she spent the day in a noisy theatre, with lots of background noise and I know she listened to every little sound and I know that brain must have been so exhausted trying to process it all but she was determined and she did.
She loves to dance and she got to dance on stage. Yes it was exhausting for her and today she is shattered. Today will be a home-day, with lots of deep pressure activities to help her clam her body down and I will be trying to get her to eat but SHE DID IT.
We found an activity that makes her heart sing and we found a group of teachers who nurture their students, teachers who are caring and loving and who always put their students needs first.
So when it comes to registering her for a new dancing semester I will be one the first parents to have my child booked in so she can continue to do something that she loves and continue to prove to herself that she CAN.
(I don’t have photos of her dancing in the show – but I always need to have a photo in my blog posts – so this is my daughter character dancing in one her classes)