Special needs street dance group qualifies for World championships

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Autism with Attitude, a street dance group from Hillingdon Manor School, Uxbridge, UK has made history by becoming the first special needs dance team to qualify for the United Dance Organisation’s (UDO) World Street Dance Championships in Glasgow (24-27 August 2017) and the UDO European Championships in Kalkar in Germany (May 2018).

Delighted with the group’s success school staff are now helping the team hone their dance skills and prepare for their role as ambassadors, showing what people with autism can achieve.

Many of the youngsters have developed their skills since attending Hillingdon Manor, an Outcomes First Group centre of excellence in education and development for children aged 5-19 with an autistic spectrum condition (ASC).

Their dance teacher, Jonathan Baron, believes they probably would not have had the chance to enter a dance competition if they had been at a different school.

The SEN dance world is currently very small and in fact they were the first dance team with special needs to take part in the event.

The school says that children with autism respond well to the structure and discipline of dance and it can help those who struggle with other forms of communication to express themselves. Students are expected to work hard and the lessons are physically demanding, building muscle, memory, balance, coordination, and body and spatial awareness.

The secret of their success, Baron says, is hard work, discipline, preparation and practice.

Autism with Attitude had performed in shows and made videos so there was no doubt about their talent or commitment but he needed to be sure that they could manage a competition in unfamiliar surroundings. He needn’t have worried, he says, as they took it all in their stride.

Baron added,

It’s a dream come true for me.

As a dancer myself I’ve obviously done competitions but it’s quite emotional taking a group of young people with autism into this arena. We keep setting them fresh challenges and now they are taking the mainstream world by storm. This is just huge; they are making history, acting as envoys for all those with special needs around the country.

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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