FRANKLIN, Ind. – At Le Rose Dance Academy, students with special needs are encouraged to get on the dance floor – a place many of them had not previously been welcome.
Students at the academy in Franklin have autism, traumatic brain injuries and down syndrome, among other conditions.
Kayla Johnson said the class has helped her daughter Rachel become more social.
“We really just wanted to find an extracurricular activity where she’s moving, because that's really great for her but with her autism that made it more challenging because finding somewhere she could go, that I could be with her, and it not being overwhelming for her was horrible,” said Johnson.
Class instructor Mackenzie Wissler said the class is different in that all children with a variety of special needs are welcome.
“There are other groups and activities for kids in the county with special needs, but a lot of them, you have to be older or have a specific diagnosis,” said Wissler. “It's a really good experience for them because they're not just lost in the chaos that is dance.”
Wissler said she adapts class to each child’s needs, skills and pace. Students work on ballet and jazz techniques while also sharpening motor and social skills.
“She's so excited to be able to go and do something around other kids her age, that are doing something together so she's coming out of her shell more and interacting with other kids,” said Johnson.