Yesterday my little boy was in his first school concert. My little boy who is Autistic. My little boy who loves to sing (even before he could talk) but who I never see dancing. My little boy who has trouble with loud noise or loud music. My little boy who can get distracted by too much of “things.” My little boy was on stage yesterday with his kindergarten class. My little boy was trying to dance with his best friend. My little boy was trying to dance The Twist. My little boy had the biggest smile on his face. My little boy’s face lit up when he realized that his Mommy, his Grandma, and our neighbour surprised him by showing up for the afternoon performance and were sitting in second row. You are starting to get how big this is right? *smiles*
Johnny’s school was doing their first Spring Time Concert and his kindergarten class learned how to dance The Twist. For weeks leading up to the performance day I kept reading in Johnny’s Daily Log book from school that he was practicing well with his classmates and was happily dancing. I would ask him if he would show me or dance the twist for me and he would either say “No..I want to play toys” or have the urgent need to use the toilet. What did I say? *smile* I let Johnny’s afternoon social communication school know about his upcoming performance and the teachers happily reported back that they managed to get him to dance for them. Mommy was going to have to wait for the day of the concert it seems.
On the morning of the concert I searched youtube for a video of Chubby Checker and the 1960 version of The Twist and played it for him. Johnny loved it and kept stealing glances at me while watcihng it. That’s when I decided to let him in on a little secret. This was one of my mother’s favourite songs or as I say to him “Grandma who is in heaven favourite songs.” I could see he was intrigued so I took a deep breathe and held back the tears and told him that when I was growing up my Mommy had a stack of little records with songs on them and this was one of the songs she would play a alot. She would turn the music up and sing “Come on baby…let’s do the twist” with a big smile on her face and motion to me to come and dance with her. She would wiggle her hips and encourage me to try and wiggle up and down to the music. As she got older her knees were not that cooperative so she had troubles wiggling back up but she would then just start giggling like crazy until she had tears in her eyes. I would be walking home for lunch and I would hear The Twist very loudly playing from our house and I knew that my Mom was cleaning and dancing or cooking and dancing. I then played the video again and took a deep breathe….put a smile on my face and did The Twist for Johnny like my Mom did for him. He smiled and smiled as he watched me and gave me a big kiss and a hug after.
Later that day we sat and held our breathe as we heard the music come on and the first of Johnny’s classmates, mostly boys, come out twisting across the stage. Then the next line of children dance out but they are now paired up with dance partners. Johnny is in this group and is in the last pair with his best friend Elise. He was gazing out at the audience and noticing that there were faces that he did not recognize but all the while he was trying to wiggle his little hips. He was smiling and dancing The Twist and having fun but wasn’t expected to do all the jumps and sudden stops that the other children were doing. The little girl with him, Elise, was in charge of helping him through the routine and she grabbed his hands and helped him twirl her around when he was suppose to. Then all of a sudden he completely stopped moving. He saw us and we whispered to each other “oh no…keep dancing..just keep dancing.” I wish I had been taking close up pictures at that moment because his face just beamed with the biggest smile that reached his eyes and he started wiggling his hips and looking right at us but focused on what he was suppose to do. He was enjoying himself and so happy that we were there. His friend had to go back and grab his hand to lead him down and across the stage because he didn’t look like he was going to leave and he was watching to see what we were going to do. We waved as they crossed in front of us heading out and he smiled but stayed with his class.
We were so proud of Johnny that he not only did it, but that he tried so hard and had fun doing it. His teacher told us later that he did so well in all the practices, never complained, tried really hard, and also waited really well when others were having a hard time waiting to go on the stage. Other older students and teachers stopped my neighbour and told her how proud they were of Johnny doing the performance and how far he has come in the two years he has been going to this school. He was amazing them because they know this is not easy for him. No it is not easy but he was doing something with his peers and was included. He was allowed to be just another kid in kindergarten getting to perform in his first concert like his classmates. Johnny’s Daddy and I noticed though that when he was up on the stage dancing he was experiencing the concert differently then the other children ( he joined me for the evening performance). Johnny was taking EVERYTHING in and enjoying what he was seeing, hearing, and feeling. It was written all over his face as his eyes kept moving all around and he would stop wiggling for a moment as his curious mind was trying to take something else in and he remembered on his own or by the gentle prodding of Elise to keep dancing. I also noticed another thing though….Johnny loves being on the stage in front of people. I have always known he loves attention and that’s why I nicknamed him “my little rock star.”
Thank you Johnny for giving your Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, neighbour and school staff something to smile about because you HAVE come a long way honey and its going to be fun in the coming months and years to see where you are going to take us.