Thursday 24 September 2020

Why we are counting down to Strictly

Disco ball in purple ballroom

Last year was the first one in years that we watched 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 last year, and it's meant the family are really looking forward to whatever form of Strictly takes as makes it on to our TV in a months time.

Grandma and Grandad have been Strictly Come Dancing viewers for years. Far more loyal than our household.  Last year they came over to babysit for one of our rare nights' out, and something they've not been able to do since March due to the pandemic. When they came over, they watched the latest episode of Strictly 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 up 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 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 even though it's now a year later. The way he knows his way around BBC iPlayer is like magic. 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.

When I say..

Alexa, play Uptown Funk”

.. David immediately lifts his head, put his iPad down on the kitchen table and comes 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 ;-)

The first time we did this after watching Strictly last year,  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.  David gets so much out of technology and his iPad.

I'm not exactly sure what Strictly will look like this year. Sometimes the kids can really struggle when things aren't what they expect or how they think they should be. But, sometimes they love the change and sometimes it's just not an issue at all. One thing is for sure, Jane has been asking when it's going to start. Fingers crossed we get some great shows and I get some great new tunes to sing along to with my lad while Anthony shouts out his scores.

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