Wednesday 11 December 2019

Why we will be extra excited about the Strictly final and sorry to see it end

Disco ball in purple ballroom

It's been years since I followed Strictly Come Dancing properly. I watched a few series but there's so much on TV nowadays and we honestly usually only make time to watch sports live.  That was until about a month ago, and since then we've seen something special happen in our autistic and neurotypical family.

Grandma and Grandad have been Strictly Come Dancing viewers for years. Far more loyal than our household.  And a little over a month ago when they came round to babysit for one of our rare nights' out, they watched the latest episode live with the kids.

Well, the kids were hooked.

I'm not too surprised about Jane - she loves dancing.  I do too, to be honest.

But the boys loved it too.

For Anthony is was all about the scores.  Although autistic like his younger brother, Anthony generally keeps us with school and numbers is one of the things in life he understands.  He's no savant, but numbers are constant, and make sense. Scores, make sense. And he's adopted being a judge (along I'm sure with many others) revealing his score "Anthony Hickman - 8" loud enough for the whole street to hear.

When I stopped and had a think, it was also relatively easy to see why David, our pre-verbal autistic eight year old son, liked it too. Bright lights, lively music and figures flying across the screen, shiny sequins and the constant theme music will all appeal to his sensory and routine needs.  It's something he can enjoy with us all too which I think he often craves, but doesn't know how to be involved.

David has been replaying the shows over and over on iPlayer. This is very common for David and rewatching TV shows, he enjoys rewatching and takes in so much from the iPad. The Blackpool show was a particular favourite and the songs became entrenched in my head as he watched it on repeat.

Then one afternoon as he was sat at the kitchen table I said..

Alexa, play Uptown Funk”

And David immediately lifted his head, put his iPad down on the kitchen table and came over to stand in front of me.

Dancing in the kitchen is not uncommon in our house. It’s great for motor skills practice and I sometimes do it when no one is watching ;-)

But this was so instant.  He stood directly in front of me, star shaped.

Alexa said, “Uptown funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars starting now on Amazon music.”

David seemed to edge toward me. As I took a step to the side to put down my hot chocolate, he took a step to mirror me. So I started to bounce.  And so did he. I started to dance.. and so did he, copying my every move.

I was grinning from ear to ear as our autistic son, who can be easily overwhelmed, finds interacting extremely challenging and often doesn't following instructions, followed my every (very simple) dance moves with a look of complete concentration.

And then it got even better.

From out of nowhere, David at just the right time yelled..

"Dowd belebe just wash
Hey, hey, hey, oh

Along with minimal speech, David's phonic sounds are still developing, but there was no doubt - these were the lyrics. He had picked this up from watching Strictly, was trying to sing along and absolutely loved it.  Thank you Chris and Karen!

David gets so much out of technology and his iPad.

After that I quickly tried to remember what other songs there had been blaring out of his iPad. So we then danced our way through You Can't Stop the Beat from Hairspray that Karim and Amy jived to  during musicals week.  We also went through the Beauty and Beast song done by Kelvin and Oti and then we did Let's Get Ready to Rumble by Ant and Dec, which was also a Chris and Karen dance.

Last week Chris and Karen were the couple of go - I'm sure you can understand why I was sad to say goodbye to them.

And this weekend is the Strictly Come Dancing Final.  We will all be watching- and hoping for a Hairspray repeat or Gaston repeat!  Goodluck guys!

Jane will be delighted, Anthony will be calling out scoring and David will be taking it all in.

I'll be watching the TV... and delighting in my kids. And looking out for that special twinkle and interest from David that picks our last few Strictly songs for dancing (and hopefully singing a few words to) over Christmas.


  1. Awww I love this so much! Yay for Strictly!

  2. This is so lovely. My kids love music and kitchen dancing and I probably don't do it enough eith them. It is amazing when a child is so excited by something those pre-verbal words come out (I love it). Hopefully you can catch some old episodes on iplayer. #spectrumsunday


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