It is the sound of a vacuum cleaner or motorcycle passing, florescent instead of natural light, a new scent, a specific tone of voice or unexpected stop on the way to a favorite restaurant. These are all transitions that can in a split second turn a blissfully uneventful day into complete, utter disarray. A short list of many known and unknown antecedents that have the potential to lead to a debilitating meltdown for someone with autism. Sensory issues to sights, sounds, smells and physical experiences that most of us integrate with ease and take for granted.
It is the inability to articulate oneself verbally or process enough verbal and social cues to carry on a thirty second conversation. It is possessing all of the vocabulary needed to communicate physical or emotional pain but lacking the necessary tools to actually vocalize one’s needs.
It is watching your child ride out a tantrum with no way to redirect their focus. The best you can do is hold and protect them from injuring themselves while feeling helpless because your efforts are not enough.
It is the frustration of looking for the appropriate assistance and having to differentiate between those who truly understand and those who claim to but do not...and take your money anyway.
It is hitting what feels like your lowest point and in an instant feeling wholly restored by direct eye contact and the utterance of a complete sentence.
...It is finding respite in the extraordinary actions of ordinary people who, bit by bit, elevate your child’s quality of life.
Hush is an effort to raise awareness by taking the mystery out of what is unknown to many and making it more accessible through dance. It is a demonstration of how movement, our first means of communication, may be used to transcend verbal expression. Hush is my approach to providing a voice for those living with autism.
When my son was diagnosed with Autism I received a great deal of solicited and unsolicited advice as to how I should care for him and plan for his future. I was confronted with naysayers who doubted his potential and chose to focus on all of the challenges that were ahead of him. Some encouraged me to place him in environments that would not allow him to reach his full potential and made assumptions about what I would be able to provide him as a single parent. Daily my faith encourages me to ignore those voices and push forward. The armor of God has, and continues to, protect us as we navigate this journey together.
Choreographer: Leah Glenn
Dancers: Hailey Arindeng, Tracy Brinkerhoff, Lauren Coble, Alexa Henrichs, Kayla Moore and Sophia Perrotti
Music: Sweet Honey in the Rock
Videography: David Willard
Please visit LGDTdnace.com for more information about "Hush" and other choreography by Leah Glenn.
Please visit LGDTdance.com and Jane@JRArtsManagement.com for information regarding direct commissions, workshops and live performances.
Hush (opening poem)
Choreography: Leah Glenn
Hear what I’m doing
See what I’m saying
The world is a crazy, confusing, scary place for me
I can’t do things other kids do
My body doesn’t work right
But inside, I’m just like other kids
I need to be loved and appreciated
I need to belong, to fit in
I need to contribute, to be useful
I need to be heard and understood
I desperately want you to be proud of me
I want to tell you my needs, my feelings, my thoughts
But they get trapped inside me because I can’t get my mouth to say the words
There gets so much piled up inside me that sometimes it just blows up everywhere
And I know you’re disappointed in me
And you get angry at me
And somehow, it’s all my fault
My actions speak so loudly, you can’t see what I’m saying
Yet, my actions are my saying
My body says what my mouth can’t
I act out my feelings, but often the acting out is such a problem that my feelings go unnoticed
But I have no other way of telling you my feelings
I want to cooperate
To feel good about myself
But to do that I must be heard
Hear what I’m doing
See what I’m saying
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