Improves motor development:
Through dancing, a child learns about body coordination and control through purposeful movements. Performance of each dance move requires moving the body through a variety of different planes of motion while using combinations of large and small muscles. Using these muscles builds strength, improves endurance, and fosters motor planning. Dance is also a fun way to practice balance skills, good posture, and build awareness of the body in space. The interaction of the body with music while dancing develops rhythm which helps with pacing for improved motor control. These skills learned during dance are translated into movement patterns required for daily activities.
Improves body awareness and sensory interaction:
Movement provides physical and sensory feedback about the body to the brain. Through this internal communication system, dance encourages children to think about their bodies, movements, and music. The practice of mirroring movements, synchronization, and rhythm during dance influences improved focus, attention, and observation resulting in increased self-awareness and awareness of others around them. Dance encourages children to think about their bodies in many different ways. They are asked to move big or small, faster or slower, copy body positions, isolate body movements, and produce organic movements which contribute to a better understanding of what their body is doing.
Provides non-verbal communication:
Children with special needs often have the desire for communication, participation, and relationship but difficulties with typical communication can lead to feelings of social isolation, loneliness, and frustration. Dance is a purposeful movement that provides a unique non-verbal expression of feelings that is universally understood. This is perfect for children with atypical communication. They are able to express emotions and develop communication skills through movement without the barriers of the spoken word.
Improved Social interaction:
Dance provides a platform for children with special needs to develop and improve social skills. Synchronized movements provide a shared experience and positively influence social understanding. In a group setting, music and moving in rhythm together creates a sense of community and connection. Familiar songs help people engage with one another, providing them with a shared experience and a sense of belonging. Dance provides a platform to build upon social skills, which helps them further to understand the emotions and feelings of other people.
Improves overall wellbeing:
Dancing is a form of healing for many with research supporting improvements in overall health and wellbeing. A major benefit is a potential for improving dysregulations. Exercise and dance boost endorphins in the brain creating a positive feeling in the body that can improve mood and help modulate pain. Rhythmic movements are known to be calming and dance is linked to reduced levels of cortisol, a hormone that influences stress and anxiety. Additional benefits of dance include improved self-esteem and confidence. Choreographed sequences can also help enhance one’s memory and recall skills.
Dance further builds upon skills children are learning in pediatric therapy. The benefits of dance in combination with other therapies can greatly impact the lives of children with special needs.