Autism - Dancing on Hallowed Ground

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”.

Why not?

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)

Why Did Harley-Davidson Come To Littleport?

I live in a small village called Littleport which is set in the fenland countryside of East Anglia. Close by is the city of Ely which boasts a very famous cathedral dating back over 1000 years. The Ship Of The Fens which took 300 years to build towers over the flat landscape and attracts many visitors.

Not so Littleport – at least not normally.

However, last weekend was a bit different.

Suddenly our quite streets came alive to the distinctive sight and sound of hog riders as they rode their Harley Davidson’s

Why did they come?

Well William S Harley of the Harley-Davidson name was born here and still has relations in the area. We’ve got an expensive metal statue of a Harley bike opposite St George’s Church, an estate agent named Harleys and also a shop selling the bikes.

Yes, Littleport is doing its bit for international relations and apart from the Littleport Riots in the 1800’s and the terrible floods in 1947 that’s probably how Littleport will be remembered.

If you want to know what I think about the place you can read my poem


Set within the fenlands is the village I call home
Littleport’s expanding fast, it certainly has grown
The locals are all friendly and most will say “hello”
They’ll smile and pass the time of day – it wasn’t always so

Back in the 1800’s that may not have been the case
For taxes led to riots causing havoc in the place
Some labourers went to prison, five hung by their necks
Others went to New South Wales, names changed to keep respect

Years have passed now senseless crime gives Littleport a name
Like vandalism, petty theft by people with no shame
If punishments as years before were deportation, hanging, prison
These mindless individuals might have a different vision

Littleport’s got a lot to offer, has all the shops we need
Butcher, baker, grocer, library for those who read
We have a new health centre, optician, dentist too
Turf accountant if you want to bet, Tattoo parlour –yes that’s true

We’ve a handy bank, Post Office and a useful launderette
Sports centre, pubs and garages, and free parking don’t forget
Two local schools and playgroups, a drop in centre too,
Chapels, Halls, St. George’s Church to suit your point of view

If you’re looking for a carpet, hardware or DIY
Special gift or wedding suit, Main Street’s the place to try
We’ve restaurants and takeaways for all who like to eat
Hairdressers and chiropodist for bad hair or troubled feet

There’s an accountant if you need one, solicitors as well
And even estate agents if you’ve a house to rent or sell
We’ve a very pleasant river, fire station that’s just fine
And a useful railway station which serves the London line

As transport links get better the employment’s not just farming
Industrial parks are growing up with a speed that’s quite alarming
But still we have the rich fen soil and dark and fertile means
Sugar beet, potatoes, wheat, barley, oats and beans

Historically there’s been an annual show where produce was displayed
But development’s meant the site has gone so locals are dismayed
For people came from miles around to celebrate the day
Even Harley riders from as far as USA

Yes, Littleport has got quite a lot, for a village its okay
It’s where I chose to make my home and where I’ll likely stay

Jean Shaw©2007