I was a nervous wreck on the days leading up to my placement at Movementworks. Being a ‘mature student’ (not saying how mature!), with children and recently finishing my degree I had been out of the workplace for many years.
I fostered for 12 years prior to my degree so although I had worked with many children, of various ages, with various needs but I had not been in another work environment for 20 years! Now, here I was embarking on a Master’s in Psychology, and part of the course was this placement.
Although it was a placement within a school and I had my fair share of experience with children, it involved Dance Therapy – and my dance moves left little to be desired, The only dance moves I had done were for my fitness class and I once took my 10 year old with me as I couldn’t arrange childcare and she spent the whole class laughing at me LOUDLY and expressing that I looked like a chicken?!! So I’m not a naturally gifted dancer nor do I possess coordination skills!
Furthermore I had very little knowledge or experience with children with complex social needs and autism except for what I had read in preparation for the placement. I was partly excited by this opportunity and part petrified!
After a long journey down the motorway and being stuck in traffic, I arrived late! Not great on my first day! I was so embarrassed! I was so relieved that my role was to observe and collect data and not to dance! I sat down awkwardly to observe what was happening in the dance session, and slowly became mesmerised and somewhat amazed by what unfolded in front of me. Ali had complete control of the class and was repeating instructions like ‘look at me, look”, ‘watch, watch!’ and “copy”. I began to understand what she was doing, i.e. getting the children to look at her was encouraging them to engage, potentially make eye contact, interact and communicate, The children were so involved and enjoying the session they were not aware these skills/difficulties were being targeted and worked on. To them they were just having an enjoyable time. “Genius!”, I thought! As each activity unfolded, I could see the enjoyment of the children’s faces! I became really excited and enthusiastic about the intervention. This honestly could benefit so many children, but even better, they wouldn’t realise it just see it as fun!
I knew from working with defiant teenagers with emotional and behavioural difficulties whilst fostering, that often when children have deficits or difficulties, they can oppose or avoid working on them. If only I could have applied something they enjoyed and were happy to participate in that at the same time worked to build confidence and improve their social skills! This made me reflect on my experience of children in the care system, who often have social and emotional difficulties and avoid eye contact. Surely this type of intervention or therapy would benefit them? In my opinion children who are going through difficult times, have suffered trauma, or lack confidence in some way would also benefit from this.
I found Ali really helpful and happy to answer all my questions about autism, which really helped. She explained everything in great detail and I learnt so much.
I really do think it would hugely benefit so many children. It would have been interesting to observe and monitor the progress of the children in mainstream schools receiving this programme. I imagine they would develop better social skills and accelerate their learning.
I really enjoyed my time at MovementWorks and would recommend the placement to anyone who is enthusiastic with an eagerness to learn.
Furthermore, I would recommend MovementWorks as an intervention to any establishment. I was so thrilled to see the children improving on their skills and would like to see this applied to many groups of children.
I was so happy to see at the end of my internship one of the year 7 pupils have the confidence to lead part of the session. She clearly loved the session and had benefited so much. It must give the team a great sense of pride and achievement to watch the improvement of these children over the weeks/months to get to this. I truly believe that MovementWorks has not yet reached all the groups of children that would benefit and I look forward to seeing MovementWorks grow and in the scope of children this therapy can help in the future.
Thank you Ali and Movement Works for the experience. I really appreciate it!