There is no question that movement and dance are therapeutic arts in which all people are able to express themselves. As such an expressive art, dance especially provides therapeutic benefits for those diagnosed with autism. Not only does movement provide the means to convey emotion and release one’s inner self, it also can provide a ritualized connection with others through rhythmic structure. Structure is key in individuals on the autism spectrum, for it allows them to be in tune with what their peers are doing, and creates an overall group activity that is both enjoyable and therapeutic.
Especially in those with autism, the combination of hearing music and attaching movement to it calls for multiple levels of processing, therefore stimulating individuals both physically and mentally. Through repetition, dance moves can be learned and practiced, which, according to Autism Key, engages use of both sides of the brain and allows new mental connections.
Shema Kolainu incorporates dance and movement into our therapeutic curriculum as well. Our in-house physical therapists works with our students with autism to use movement as a tool for self-expression, learning, and fun in a safe, non-judgmental environment. We strive to enhance the cognitive abilities and improve motor functions of individuals with autism through physical stimulation.
The American Autism Association, an organization focused primarily on providing low income families with free programs for children with autism, is offering a free “Anyone Can Dance” program. This program holds 45-minute sessions every Saturday for a duration of 7 weeks beginning in July, and is a great opportunity for children with autism to learn dance and have fun in a group setting.
Space for these classes are limited. More information on each class can be found at www.myautism.org, or by calling their office at 877-654-4483.