Teaching A Special Needs Dance Class Changed My Life

Teaching A Special Needs Dance Class Changed My Life

I thought I would be teaching these kids, but little did I know they would be teaching me.

523
views

My Saturday mornings, over the past couple of years, haven't started like most people's and for that, I am truly blessed. My aunt, Jennifer Allender, started a dance class for individuals with special needs around 12 years ago. This class is held every Saturday morning. I decided to start going and helping out with the class when I was younger and I am so glad that I did. Here's the backstory of why my aunt was inspired to start something so amazing. She said, "when I was a junior in high school competing at a gymnastics meet for Midstate Gymnastics, a group of girls came out to perform for everyone — a floor exercise routine. They were wearing their teams signature leotard and the brightest smiles. These little gymnasts were all girls who had Down's Syndrome."

She knew she wanted to become a special education teacher after that. While working as a special ed teacher she realized she wanted to give her students more activities outside of school. Thus began the outstanding dance class that she said would "give children and individuals of all abilities the chance to dance, a moment to call their own through performance opportunities and most of all, a love for the art of dance."

Yeah, I know, she rocks!

It has been so amazing to have the opportunity to watch the kiddos in the studio grow throughout the years and not just in their dancing abilities. I get to witness them overcome their difficulties and blossom in every aspect of their lives. Seeing their beautiful personalities is incredible and it makes me so happy to get the opportunity to help them. Because of them, I have gotten to spend my Saturdays with a humongous smile on my face.

I thought I would be teaching these kids but little did I know they would be teaching me.

These kids have taught me determination, to stick with something until you get it (even if it's hard).

They have taught me to not take life so seriously, to just have fun with it.

They have taught me compassion, how to love everyone you meet.

They have taught me patience, that everything takes time.

These dancers are my heroes and I am so glad I have them in my life.

They never fail to amuse me or teach me or make me giggle.

They are the reason I am the way I am today.

Getting to grow up helping in these classes has been a life-changing experience. I am beyond grateful to have these dancers in my life and I cherish every moment I get to spend dancing with them. It hurts my heart that I am away from them on Saturdays, now that I am in college. We can't always pick the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it and who we dance with.

P.S. Don't worry besties I'll be back for your BIG show!

Popular Right Now

11 Symptoms Of Vagus Nerve Dysfunction

Something many people have, but few people know about.
37280
views

Not many people really know what the vagus nerve is so first, let me explain that. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body that regulates the gut and also affects the cardiovascular, immune, endocrine and respiratory systems. That means it's a pretty major nerve in the human body. So when that nerve is dysfunctional, you can imagine it can have some pretty ridiculous side effects.

This past autumn, I figured out that my vagus nerve is, somehow, dysfunctional. And it turns out that a lot of people have a dysfunctional vagus nerve. When you struggle with vagus nerve dysfunction, you can be perfectly healthy for a long time, catch a cold or hit a wall, and then your body will take months to recover. I got so sick that I didn't have the energy to even get out of bed for days and probably would have withered away if my mom didn't bring me food.

Living with vagus nerve dysfunction is something that you have to learn to live with because there is no cure. So if you have a friend with a dysfunction vagus nerve, please try and understand them and read through these common symptoms that come with it.

1. Chronic nausea

Unfortunately, this means there isn't a lot that seems appetizing to eat.

2. Weight loss

Due to not wanting to eat from nausea, you can lose significant weight. At my worst, I unintentionally lost 15 lbs. in about three weeks.

3. Weight gain

Most likely due to chronic fatigue, depression, and anxiety.

4. Bradycardia and tachycardia

Otherwise known as decreased heart rate and increased heart rate, respectfully. This can make simple things like walking or standing for long periods of time difficult.

5. IBS

Constant stomach pains and nausea generally means constantly feeling uncomfortable.

6. Depression

Not only just because it's connected to your brain, but always feeling down and sick definitely takes a toll on your mental health.

7. Anxiety

I still sometimes get panic attacks at the thought of leaving the house because I might have a terrible dizzy spell in public again.

8. Chronic inflammation

It just sucks.

9. Chronic fatigue

There's a difference between feeling tired all the time because you're a college student and feeling tired all the time because your body is sick.

10. Heartburn

All I have to say is no thank you.

11. Dizziness/fainting

We try our best to not stand up too fast because that'll make it worse.

While there isn't a cure for vagus nerve dysfunction, there are a lot of things we can do to manage it. Some of us take medications for our mental health and nausea. Yoga is always great for increasing our muscle function. And massive intake of salt and water is vital (we drink a lot of Gatorade). But that doesn't mean that we don't have bad days.

So try your best to be there for your friends with dysfunctional vagus nerves. Instead of always suggesting to go out, maybe just ask if you can bring over a lot of Gatorade and salty snacks and binge Netflix. It will be greatly appreciated.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

10 Ways To Make College Life Easier With ADHD

With a little organization, your schedule will be so much smoother.

27
views

I have lived with ADHD my entire life. Just like many other people have, and I am sure they would tell you that it presents some obstacles. In elementary, middle, and high school I felt like I really owned my disability. I had it locked down. So naturally, I thought college would be different, but still a breeze when it came to cope with my ADHD.

I was wrong! College doesn't provide the schedule I was used to. The professors are amazing and willing to help, but they also have a ton of other students. Way more than my high school teachers had. My first semester was rough. I struggled to schedule my homework, class, work and social life. so here I will outline ten ways to be successful in college with a learning disability. However, these tips can help anyone!

1. Keep an organized planner

Keeping an organized planner is essential. In my planner, I plan far ahead in the calendar section. Stuff like test dates, quizzes, events, and projects. In the weekly section, I put all of my up and comings, like homework, when to do laundry, my workout schedule, and my work schedule. It helps a lot to see my week laid out. It keeps me responsible and on top of what I need to do.

2. Keep a clean living space

My first semester, I put organized living on the back burner. I didn't realize that it stressed me out subconsciously. I typically do my everyday homework in my room, so having a nice space is crucial. I usually dedicate about fifteen minutes a day to tidy up. Living in a dorm, my space tends to get messy within about a day, so doing the small things like making my bed every day and doing my dishes. Having a clean room to come home to is a great feeling and lessens my stress after a very busy day of classes.

3. Study for test outside of your room

Doing your homework inside your room is fine. However, tests are a different story. I find it really helpful to use a study room. The space doesn't have a lot of distractions and usually, I choose one near other resources that help with studying.

4. Study in a group

Sometimes you don't know all of the material that your peers do. Also, it helps to teach each other the material. It's been proven that teaching is the best way to learn material. Usually, I have classes with a few of my friends, so learning and teaching material with them is extremely beneficial.

5. Make a schedule that works best for you

Do not overcrowd your schedule. Your life will kind of revolve around your schedule. So, make sure it doesn't stress you out. I would highly recommend not taking classes early in the morning. You might think it will be easy for you to get up that early because we've been doing that all of high school. However, here you have to walk to classes. Sometimes your classes are far away. So, make sure you take that into account as well. Try to walk your classes and make sure you haven't scheduled them to close together.

Also, keep in mind that huge breaks between classes might not be a great idea. I tend to want to go home between classes if I can and sometimes that gives me an excuse not to go. Just do what you know you can handle, my best advice was don't be too ambitious with scheduling at the start, you can always add classes if you think you can handle more. Also for the video I linked above if you want some more information I'd skip to around three-minute mark.

6. Use your resources

Colleges have a lot of great resources for people with learning disabilities and a ton of other resources for everyone. I find tutoring extremely helpful, and you can find a lot of it online. So, if you have breaks in your day I would recommend going and getting some extra help.

7. Get ready the night before

Rushing to get ready and get all of your class supplies in the morning is no fun. However, a great way to get rid of some of that stress is to prepare the night before. I always lay out what I am going to wear the next day and pack my backpack before I go to sleep. I also recommend making it part of your nightly routine to plug in all of your technology. Nothing is worse than having a dead phone or computer when you have class all day.

8. Ask for help

I know sometimes I feel awkward when I don't understand whats going on, but I have learned to always reach out when I need help. Professors and TAs have office hours so use them! Most of the time if you are busy during their office hours they can set up another time to meet with you. Talking to an expert on the subject that's confusing you is extremely helpful. that being said, sometimes you can't get there with your schedule. Ask a classmate! they might not be as knowledgeable as your professor but they might have the answers you are looking for. You can always look into getting a tutor if you are struggling with the materials.

9. Make plans ahead of time

I love having a good time with friends but sometimes those plans can interfere with my school work if I don't watch out! If you make plans ahead of time then you can do your work early. Put it in your planner! I have to admit sometimes I grab dinner or go out last minute, but I always feel like I should be doing the work I haven't finished yet. when you make sure to have your work done before leaving for the night you feel so much better. Planning your nights might seem redundant or annoying to you and your friends but I promise it will get rid of a lot of stress. You won't be rushing to get work done and you won't be thinking about school work while you're having fun!

10. Learn to say no!

Sometimes I get stressed out because I have too much going on. So, if you feel that way start saying no to what you ca not handle at the moment. If you have too much homework and your friends want to go out then maybe you should stay in. It could also be telling yourself "no, when you want to stay up until 4 a.m to watch Netflix, when you have class at 8 in the morning! College is a great time, so you should try to involve yourself in as many opportunities as you can. However, if you feel as if you have been stretched too thin, say no for a while and cut back on what you can't handle.

I hope these tips help you out! I have found all of them extremely helpful in my everyday life. They might not all work for you, that's okay. Try them out and see which ones do! If I've learned one thing, it's to do what works best for you and your personal preferences.

Related Content

Facebook Comments