Being inclusive of all children has been a passion of mine as a teacher. This is why I was both devastated and inspired to write something, after hearing feedback Dan received at a party today. Hopefully my experience can reassure parents who may have the same fears when planning a birthday party for their child with additional or special needs.
Dan came home from his show tonight explaining how a parent felt they had to hide the fact their child was Autistic (and had Autistic friends) until after the show. She was scared she would not be able to find a children’s entertainer who would perform for them if she was upfront about it. She didn’t realise that many Autistic children have a natural talent and flair for Magic and that she could not have chosen a better form of entertainment for her son’s birthday.
Using a magic trick in the classroom (to explain a science or maths concept) always engaged more children than using the latest piece of technology. I knew that my students with ESL (English as a Second Language), ADHD, Aspergers and Auditory Processing difficulties…(yes, in the one classroom)…would be completely engaged and not only remember the concept, but would also tell anyone who would listen about it also. So thinking about it now, it makes perfect sense that a magic show would also be a great choice to engage all children at a birthday party.
Dan’s professional magic show brings a certain structure, an organised excitement and calm at the same time. This is very predictable and comforting to children with anxiety or social awkwardness. Dan has the ability to gauge an audience and know instinctively the level of excitement that is appropriate for the setting. It is a fine balance to get children actively participating whilst maintaining everyones enjoyment. This is where it helps to have the prior knowledge of a child’s level of sensitivity. Magic is an international and visual art form so even if a child can’t follow the story or is hearing impaired they can still appreciate, feel included and enjoy the party. One of the best shows I have seen Dan perform involved mind reading with a lady who’s son attempted to be her interpreter at last years Melbourne Magic Festival. Parents can be reassured the child who has trouble concentrating or sensory issues will also have a fun time.
Around Victoria Dan regularly performs at the school’s, holiday and respite program’s for children (and adults) with special needs. Dan fondly remembers many who eagerly come up and say hello at public events, often they have a chat with myself also. One family just had Dazzling Dan perform for their child’s birthday for the 3rd year in a row!
I recommend to anyone who has a child who may be shy, uncertain or have additional needs to let us know and to check out the upcoming performances page. You’re welcome to introduce your child to Dazzling Dan after one of the shows. Importantly be upfront as Dan is spectacular at easing even the most reluctant children to being included in the show. His manner is so gentle and encouraging that every birthday child feels special on their big day. Dan is often delighted at how amazed a parent is that Dan brought a child out of their shell, or in contrast amazed at how he managed their excitement.
This family had no prior knowledge of Dazzling Dan when booking, or of his years of experience performing for children with a variety of needs including Autism. Hopefully this BLOG will help parents feel more comfortable discussing the needs of their children with any entertainer they choose.
Author: Lisa Bingham
WAHM of two creative and active girls (2 & 4yrs)
Wife of Dazzling Dan