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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Is praise good for everyone?

So today was the first Sweetherts dance class back in the New Year (to see how this went for us before Christmas, please read my previous post The chance to dance). The girls were very excited about going again, and were delighted to see the same great teacher.


Today, in half an hour, the three girls in the class managed to choreograph a whole funky dance routine together (to Fight Song) and then perform it for mums at the end of the session.

It brought a tear to my eye (as far too many things seem to do these days...); for our youngest to be able to express her creative side and also actually follow through on directions is nothing short of amazing.

At the beginning she scrunched her face up with the shyness/embarrassment of being watched, but it was clear she wanted to perform the routine anyway - I think her love for music just overruled the anxiety. At the end, the mums clapped (of course) and youngest girl clapped her hands to her ears, to stop the noise.

All brilliant. Then at bedtime, I whispered to her how much I had loved it, and that I thought it was amazing that she had worked with the others to make the dance up. I was going off the premise that if she knew how much we had enjoyed it, she might feel proud and want to do it again.

Her reply, with a sigh, was:

'Mummy, you don't have to do that, congratulate me, you know. I kind of like to be happy and proud but no clapping, too noisy. Too erm, congratulating. You know me, I don't like too much noise or too much people. Anyway, I wanted to do the whole dance, not just my bit.'

Love how that's told me. Too much praise is not a good thing for many autistic children; it can be overwhelming. On top of that, the noise of clapping has always caused our girl issues, despite the fact she is very able to make more noise than that herself!

It also highlights how difficult it was for her to share the choreography with the other two girls, and to not be in control of the whole dance herself. I count every time that she agrees to relinquish a little control as a huge achievement - but with the understanding that it must always be baby steps and done in a 'fun' way.

To finish off on a tangent... for a while when she was younger, I kept a record of the strange turn of phrase. It's at times like this that I feel hugely disappointed with the lack of Speech and Therapy input over the last six years. We've received no support and yet it is clearly an area where some work could be done - if only someone could make a 'fun' YouTube video playing Minecraft whilst speaking perfect Queen's English (minus American slang such as her current favourite, 'butt'), I'm sure there'd be huge excitement in the autism mums community.....

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