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Disability Inclusion in Theatre Benefits Everyone

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My son ROCKS! I wish others saw him as I do!

Here’s a picture of him at acting class last week.

I struggle with wanting to change the world for him.
I want people to be more accepting.
I want people to be more open.
I want it today. Not tomorrow, today.
But sometimes we have to take baby steps.
Sometimes we can only change one person at a time.

When I signed my son up, I didn’t ask for any special requests — we just went.
I honestly didn’t think about anything besides his excitement.
I was thinking of what he could do, not what he couldn’t.
Down syndrome was not on my mind — just a boy who loves drama and acting.

We caught the other students/actors off guard being there.
We caught the instructor off guard being there.

It took them a while.
It took them a beat or two to get comfortable.
And then they realized they were all there for the same reason — their love of acting.
And they slowly opened their hearts.
And they started to see him.
They saw his eagerness.
They saw his love of laughter.
They saw his love for spontaneity.
They saw he tried.

But what was most amazing was when the instructor changed his teaching style.
He put down the paper scripts (that my son was struggling with) and started using improv techniques.
And that’s when all the students began to grow.
They began to use physical humor and their body language.
They began to use facial expressions and make more eye contact.
They jumped up and volunteered more quickly.
It became more fun for all.

Several students took the time to say goodbye to my son as we left.
Several were still intimidated.
But today, we changed a few perspectives and opened some hearts.

Originally published: March 11, 2022
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