If you read my last post you will remember I mentioned Ely Cathedral. Over the years this amazing building been famed for its choirs and organ recitals. It has been featured on the television on several occasions but on Saturday evening it was the host to my son’s dance group.
The Lantern Dance Theatre Group is an integrated company with almost half the performers having severe learning difficulties. However, the “normal” dancers are amazing with them and the performances are brilliant.
This latest performance was quite adventurous with three different pieces of music which actually comprised five different dances. It lasted about an hour and a half which is a long time for anyone to stay quiet.
My autistic son was brilliant though and even when he was not performing and had to stand waiting in the back room ready to come on he remained relatively silent. This was just as well as sounds echo in the vast high ceilinged building covered in amazing stone carvings.
However, it would not have mattered because Jodi is accepted as he is and although the dancers are very serious about their work he is not seen as a distraction. Infact, they see my son as a tonic - a light relief when they are stressed. At eighteen he still possesses that child like innocence with no need to pretend. He often expresses in his own way the things the others might wish to.
The performance touched everyone and there was an air of disbelief at the end. The production was well attended and the comments were far more than that it was "nice". People were genuinely moved.
However, they said things like, “That’s amazing – you wouldn’t think “they” would be able to do that”.
Just because someone has a disability it doesn’t mean they can’t necessarily do things. Autism may not be the best diagnosis but it’s not life threatening and the possibilities are endless. All it takes is opportunity and a bit of give and take.
Inclusion can make a big difference to people's lives and not just for the people with a disability. Ask anyone who is involved. (See my Autism and Interdependence post of 18th May)