FOR Tesa Nicholls, dancing is an “all-in-one therapy” for her eleven-year-old daughter Yasmin, who was diagnosed with level two autism, ADHD, dyslexia and orthography in May this year.
After placing first in the special needs division of the Follow Your Dreams competition in Montrose Bay in October, Yasmin has qualified to travel to Melbourne for the competition’s national level in January.
Being the first special needs student from her studio – Majestics Dance Studio in Moonah – to ever qualify for nationals, Majestics director Kristy Harding said she was “very excited to see where Yasmin goes on her journey.”
Yasmin had been dancing for three years before she was diagnosed with a multitude of disabilities and Ms Harding has seen Yasmin progress from the moment she began dancing.
“Being a teacher of Yasmin for the past three-and-a-half years, it’s just beautiful to see her growth and to see her through her stages of diagnosis, and to see people allowing people with disabilities an opportunity to perform,” she said.
Ms Nicholls thanked the patience and understanding of Majestics, which had helped Yasmin to thrive despite the hindrances that her disabilities presented.
As Yasmin had disabilities that affected her short-term memory and social interactions, dancing proved to have many benefits for her.
“We get the social therapies because Yasmin gets to interact with other kids, has to learn to express herself correctly and safely, and she gets the physiotherapy by dancing so that helps with her muscle tone,” Ms Nicholls said.
“Seeing the improvement in her alone, it’s sort of like having multiple therapies in one.”
Ms Nicholls said encouraging and inspiring children of all abilities to follow their passions was important to breaking down barriers in society.
“There are some misconceptions because some people think ‘oh a disability, they can’t achieve,’ but they can with the right support and the right understanding from the teachers at their studio, and also from event providers as well,” she said.
Majestics showcased its inclusivity with the recent establishment of ‘Legacy’, an all-abilities cheer team that saw Yasmin participate this month with five other non-special needs children.
“It’s difficult to find services for children with disabilities, so it’s been a big passion of ours to make sure they fit in with everybody,” Ms Harding said.
“At the moment there isn’t a lot for children with one disability, let alone multiple disabilities, so it’s really important to have a school that’s supportive and understanding, and then having competitions where the event providers have an understanding as well.
“There are these kids that do want to perform and do want to be out there.
“They’re not ashamed that they have a diagnosis and they want to perform, but they can’t.”
Ms Harding said she was “very overwhelmed” with Yasmin’s commitment and dedication.
“We’ve seen her push in a whole new way,” she said.
Yasmin will now compete in the special needs division of the Follow Your Dreams competition for children aged 11 years and younger from 3 to 9 January 2020.
“We hope that she just goes there and performs her best, and shows people that it can be done,” Ms Harding said.
“That they [children with disabilities] can achieve things, and they can come and give it a go and their parents can understand that their children will be safe and understood.”
Caption: Young Glenorchy resident Yasmin Nicholls, who recently won her division in the Follow Your Dreams competition, with mother Tesa Nicholls.