Article by Abby Twyman, M.Ed., BCBA
One thing I’ve noticed across my time working with kids is that music and dance tends to connect us all. It requires no verbal communication. Just listen to the music and dance. Jump, spin, move your arms… it doesn’t matter what you do. Just DANCE! When it comes to universal activities in which everyone can participate, nothing holds a candle to music and dancing.
A few years ago video games like Just Dance, Dance Dance Revolution, and Dance Central began to enter households everywhere. With the easy-to-use and hands-free technologies on the XBox, Wii and PS3 these games are more accessible than ever to individuals with autism and other disabilities. Now, when I’m working on social skills, many times we’re focused on playing games like this which integrate music, dance, turn taking and social skills all in one. How can you beat that?!?
Many of you know that it’s most effective to teach skills during activities which are preferred. Many of the students I work with love music and dancing so using this as a medium to teach social skills is fantastic. In addition to the social skills being worked on during these activities, an added benefit is working on imitation skills because you have to copy the moves being done on the screen.
In my practice I’ve seen games like this work wonders in jump-starting social skills instruction due to the highly motivating nature of the activity.
Speaking of dance, did you know that the Dizzy Feet Foundation, in collaboration with the popular dance show So You Think You Can Dance, The Music Center and Los Angeles County, hosts National Dance Day on July 28th, 2012 this year. I’ve been thinking about how fun it would be to get a group together to participate in this event next year. Who’s in???