The article chosen for reflection is “Special needs and dance: An insider’s perspective” by Judith Nelson. This article is particularly valuable for educators of children with special needs because Nelson is a parent of a child with a disability as well as a dance educator who teaches students with disabilities. The author’s two roles of an educator and a parent of a child with special needs constantly intertwine; this, in my opinion, contributed to the depth of the article that shed light on the problems special needs children might face in their everyday life.
In her article, Judith Nelson (2015) stated, “dance has always been my life and my joy” (p. 110). Her professional aspirations to become a famous dancer combined with the desire to teach children with special needs because of the birth of her daughter, Skye. Unfortunately, the girl was born with the Down syndrome, so her parents had to drastically change their lives in order to adapt to her needs. Despite this, the author recognized that her daughter influenced her dancing as well as taught her a lot about life, especially when Skye developed some medical problems such as unstable patella and seizure disorder (Nelson, 2015). Because of her daughter, Nelson changed her life dramatically, moved to New York, and began teaching individuals with special needs. In my opinion, it takes a very strong parent to deal with the health challenges of her child while trying to bring good to other people who have problems similar to her daughter.
It was quite heartbreaking to read about the difficulties Skye experienced in her dancing classes and that she had to be put in a group with younger children to feel more successful. I think that in such situations Judith Nelson had to find the right balance between being a mother and an educator, without leaning towards one specific role. The article showed a new perspective on teaching students with disabilities as well as being a parent of such children. It was also very interesting to read about the benefits dance classes can bring to children with special needs as well as how parents deal with the constant challenges. For example, Nelson relied on another dance teacher who knew exactly how to support Skye; Judith greatly appreciated that woman (Nelson, 2015). When this teacher left the studio, a problem of who could further give extra attention to Skye appeared. In situations like this, the author struggled to teach other students while keeping a watchful eye on her daughter, who with age became even more difficult to manage.
By conducting some further research on Judith Nelson, I learned that she works with the Mark Morris Dance Group in the Department of Special Kids Dance. Her aspiration is bringing the benefit and the fun of dance activities to special needs students. The dance classes are kept small in order to ensure intimate interactions and facilitate parent participation. I think that what Judith Nelson does is worth praise and respect since children with special needs require not only support and general education but also the option to develop physically and mentally, which is possible with the help of dance. Nelson’s article about her insight into the world of education and parenting of children with special needs taught me that there are no limits to supporting students with disabilities.
Nelson, J. (2015). Special needs and dance: An insider’s perspective. Journal of Dance Education, 15(3), 110-115.