Early Intervention is the Key to Our Sucess.
March is my favorite month of the year. If you have spent any time with me on Instagram (@becky.ferrigno) this month, you have probably figured out why. St. Patrick’s Day falls on the 17th of March and Irish Americans across the country use this date as an excuse to educate our non-Irish neighbors about our rich heritage for an entire month. People of Irish descent are very proud to be Irish.
I am one of the fortunate ones who lives her Irish heritage and customs all year. I grew up in a family that carried on the Irish traditions including singing and storytelling. Now as a parent, I am passing Irish culture on to my own children.
I discovered and fell in love with the world of Irish dancing at the age of 23. As an Irish dancer, my fit bit tells me that I take between 3000-4000 steps in an average one-hour dance class. During that class, my body must be held in a still upright position with my arms kept tight to my sides. My feet are turned out and all steps are executed while balanced on your toes.
To perform the steps well (and far better than I do), the dancer must have a tremendous amount of core strength, flexibility and balance. Irish dancers are incredible athletes who rely on their physical conditioning to make their steps fly and progress through the world of competition.
The Next Generation of Irish Dancer
Since our daughter was born, she has watched me dance and imitated the moves. As soon as she turned 4, she asked to start Irish dancing. At the time, it didn’t seem like a logical choice for our gross motor delayed child. She lacks core strength and has generalized low muscle tone. I knew it was going to be a struggle but after much discussion, we decided to give it a try. I am so glad we did.
Through Irish dancing, our daughter has gained her first visible muscle in her calf. She has become more coordinated. She met IEP goals that her physical therapist believes she only achieved because of the work she is doing in Irish dancing. Also, she has made friends who help her navigate large, crowded, and scary dance outs. But most of all, she is gaining confidence in her abilities and is practicing at home because she wants to keep up with everyone else. It’s hard and she is exhausted but she is doing it.
The Secret Key to Her Success
The success our daughter is seeing in Irish dancing, the classroom and life are a result of Early Intervention. We wouldn’t be here today watching her perform jig steps if years of physical therapy, occupational therapy, eye therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and chiropractic care hadn’t come first.
Because here’s the reality, three years ago she couldn’t walk without falling down. Two years ago she couldn’t jump. One year ago, she couldn’t skip. Even with PE and Irish dancing, balance is a daily struggle. Exhaustion exasperates her condition. By the end of a regular school day, she still doesn’t have the strength to sit upright in a chair at the dinner table. As I frequently tell my daughter and my students, practicing is the only way to get better. Hopes and dreams mean very little if an action does not quickly follow.
Part of my mission as an author is to encourage parents to seek help. The best time to help your child and get them on a strong foundation is when they are young and their brains are sponges. Research says that children develop 85% of their core brain structure by the age of 5. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing on Twitter (@becky_ferrigno) and Instagram (@becky.ferrigno) some of the tools and books we have used on our journey. Make sure to join us there!
Until next week, Be Kind, Be Yourself and Be Brave!