Over the years I have been blessed with the friendship of many SPECIAL NEEDS people.
I think this started with my first niece who was born with severe challenges. When I was a young boy my parents and I would go see Lori for a visit and then an outing to a restaurant. She was very wiry and quick. I have humorous memories of my dad & I scurrying about between tables trying to keep up with her. Lori did not talk but she was verbal and we discovered she loved 45 rpm records. (For those who are confused by this term, please Google) She was very selective and only accepted red or yellow 45s. I’m not sure if Lori actually listened to these records.
This early introduction into the world of SPECIAL NEEDS enriched my journey by exposing life in a fuller way. There was not a sense of superiority but of being a part of something much bigger than myself. These divine appointments continue to bring LIFE-CHANGING PEOPLE into my sphere.
When I was at university getting my teaching credentials in special education I worked at the Boys’ Club. I was given full rein to develop and run a program for special needs boys & girls. I called it The Adventures Club. I didn’t realize how appropriate this name was; it was a BIG ADVENTURE. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who was a dancer volunteer to help me with my 15 charges. We had the crazy idea of putting on a dance performance, complete with scenery. After many hours of semi-controlled, chaotic rehearsals, we invited the parents and families to come experience City Dance. When the night arrived and about 60 people showed up, my dancer friend and I looked at each other, took a deep breath, and hit the play button on the Ghetto Blaster. (Maybe another Google search for you) What followed was pure magic. Every kid was Fred Astaire or Ginger Rodgers, only with some funky attitude. Every parent and family member was joining in. It was a special nightl. Special Needs Can Lead to Special Art.
In recent history I had the pleasure of playing bass in a group that included a trombone player named Danny. Danny was born with some challenges and some gifts. One of his greatest gifts is his empathy for others. If you happen to sneeze or cough around him, you will be asked about your health. One of the other gifts Danny has is perfect pitch. Play a note on your instrument and he will tell you what it is. I’ve learned how to be a more caring person and probably a better musician because of Danny. I enjoy our friendship to this day.
There are some extraordinary examples of Special Needs people creating Special Art. About 5 years ago I stumbled upon Derek Paravicini from the UK. Derek was born blind with severe autism due to a 3 1/2 month premature birth. With the guidance of his music teacher, Adam Ockelford, Derek became a concert pianist at age 10. Today he is a touring musician. You can purchase Derek’s 1st CD, Echoes of the Sounds to Be, from his website. The art that Derek produces with the piano is special.
The more opportunities I get to meet and make friends with creative people, the more I understand that Special Needs Can Lead to Special Art.
For more information
In the key of genius TED Talk – Derek Paravicini & Adam Ockelford.
Art for Children and Adults with Special Needs
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I’m Preston McCracken, join me in ENLARGING OUR LIVES.