Think independently and practice being an independent doer by dancing your way forward. The act of dancing is self-affirming and releases the body from a limited range of daily motion. Practicing self-affirmation on a daily basis strengthens the resolve of a person to think more independently. For individuals on the autism spectrum, self-affirmation and independent thought are a lifeline of communication. I foster its development and believe in the power of dancing to positively disrupt the machinations of the brain. Dancing, like the conducting of music can be a formidable strategy in bringing what is on the inside to the outside. It is rapid and direct. Most of the children, adolescents and young adults I currently coach who are on the autism spectrum or with a severe disability greatly benefit from it and respond favorably to physical movement to the sound of music.

Dancing changes them. Afro-Cuban salsa makes them smile and laugh. They step out of a shell and outside their comfort zone in a structured environment. I play all kinds of music for them. At this time, two of them in particular, #theFieldGeneral and #theCowboy are already valuing the benefit of dancing in their lives. As a Special Educator and executive function skills coach who works directly with families, individuals and communities, instilling independent thinking is a top priority always. To them, the importance of thinking independently and doing so through a consistent practice of self-affirmation can only serve to establish a strong foundation for their future. How do you teach this to someone who is verbally-challenged? How do we go about conveying the value of independent thinking to a child with more severe forms of autism?
It is not easy to teach dancing… First one must know how to dance. Second, one most know to to teach. Third, one must know how to teach well. I think that more than my technical instruction to someone like #theFieldGeneral in facilitating his movement flow to rhythm and beat is the energy I bring to the moment. I must role-model the very skills I seek for him to emulate independently and this

includes being passionate and valuing passion.

A parent, teacher or a person can go forth on their own and begin to dance. When teaching a younger person, it is important to be appropriate in our movements which can communicate expression beyond our words. Self-discovery happens as we leave our comfort zone through dancing. Like meditation, the more we dance the more our ideas of what dancing should look like for each of us fall away and new dance ‘flows’ can begin to be established. Key to one’s dancing progress is to allow self-doubt to fall by the wayside as you step forward into self-affirmation. By not judging your dance you give yourself an opportunity to keep moving without undercutting yourself early. The spill over effect of feeling more confident follows us into other aspects of our life. In time we begin to feel increased levels of confidence from these cognitive-physical workouts and somehow, passion enters our life. Being clear on a desired purpose tends to generate this passion. Dance movement is not only physically therapeutic then, but provides mental-emotional regulation that can quite rapidly impact how one feels about themselves and their life in general.

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