A Mother's Story...
James was diagnosed with autism at five years old and given a Statement of Educational Needs to attend a special school locally as he had additional learning difficulties. He walked on tiptoes all the time, flapped his hands and hardly spoke. His vocabulary was limited.
At eight years old he couldn’t read or write.
He had been fitted with orthopedic boots and splints as his tiptoe walking had become a problem and the tendons in his legs were so tight he couldn’t put his heels on the ground at all.
Whilst he was awaiting surgery, I decided to take him along to dance classes with other children. I thought it would be good for him to mix with mainstream children in a fun and informal environment. He loved it and soon had joined the dance school and was attending competitions where he was winning trophies every week.
Within six months of starting dancing, he had learned to read and write but the biggest change was that he no longer needed his splints and orthopedic boots as the exercise had naturally stretched his tendons.
Dancing changed everything for James. When he didn’t have the vocabulary to explain how he was feeling, he could show emotion through dance. Being part of a social group through dance, taught him about relationships and dancing competitively taught him about sportsmanship.
Dancing acted as a therapy for James and gave him a dream and a future. It has become a part of him. He appeared on Got to Dance on Sky 1 and made the finals of Britain’s Got Talent. James went on to win a scholarship at a top ballet school in the UK. He is now 15 years old and auditioning for an upper ballet school place to complete his classical training.
Sheila Hobley, Mother of James Hobley (Ballet dancer pictured on this website)