About 5 weeks ago, I started taking Irish Step dance lessons.
I used to dance (tap and jazz) and I have always loved “rhythmic” dance.
Anything with a tap on the shoe to make percussive noise, I’m there.
Maybe it’s the musician in me.
I’ve always been interested in Irish Step, especially hard shoe.
Right now, since I’m a very beginner, I’m starting with soft shoe.
This means, there aren’t any percussive sounds.
The shoe is a soft leather with no taps on the bottom.
Anyway, I was so excited for my first class!
I hadn’t taken dance in years, and was happy to start again.
As soon as I got there, panic hit me.
Have you ever seen Riverdance?
All of those dancers hold hands…like the whole time!
Why didn’t I think of this??
I’m ready to bolt, but wait and give it a try.
Thank goodness, this class is different!
It’s more “solo” Irish Step.
There are other people in the class, but we just keep our hands down at our sides.
Haven’t had to hold a hand yet!
This experience brings up an issue that many HH sufferers stress about.
Have you ever wanted to do something but didn’t because hand holding may be involved?
I used to be a gymnast.
Okay, I was 5.
But I could pull off a mean cart-wheel!
Recently, around the time of the last Olympics, I read the results of a HH survey asking:
“What would be the worst Olympic sport for people with HH, what would be the best?”
Overwhelmingly, the results were:
Worst: GYMNASTICS | Best: SWIMMING
Can you imagine gymnastics with HH?
The uneven bars? The balance beam?
I don’t believe I quit gymnastics because of my HH.
I think I was just being a kid and didn’t want to do it anymore.
Sometimes, I wish I would have continued.
But I cannot imagine I would have any success due to HH.
I love dancing, but I would never take ballroom or salsa.
I used to want to clog dance.
My sister took it and I really enjoyed watching her.
But I wouldn’t ever dance ballroom/salsa/clogging because there is hand holding involved with some steps.
Why would I voluntarily put myself in that position?
I’ve had a goal recently to start working with children and HH. I want to go into the schools and educate teachers, nurses, parents and students about HH.
One goal is to adjust lesson plans to remove activities that require hand games or holding hands with other students. This could include activities in gym class such as dancing or certain types of tag, classroom games of getting to know each other, and/or holding hands with a buddy when walking down the hall.
I remember as a child going through Elementary school especially, other students didn’t want to hold my hands because they were wet. At my young age, I still didn’t know what was going on with me. I didn’t know I was different from other kids. It was confusing and hurtful when people would call me gross.
I feel that as an alternative, schools could start by making these activities optional and the buddy system could be altered by using a rope to hold on to, instead of someone’s hand.
Ideally, by educating about HH in the schools, teachers will know what to look for in HH sufferers and be able to address the condition with the student and parents. If teachers find a student with HH in their class, their lesson plans could be altered accordingly and special attention could be given to the child. For example, I know that I struggled a lot writing with pencil and paper in class or working on art projects. The teacher would be able to offer the student additional time to complete projects, and offer alternatives such as: going to a separate room to take tests, give the child a paper towel or cloth, let the student write with pen, etc.
Recently, I spoke with a friend of mine who is currently earning her music education degree. She wants to be a music teacher in public schools.
When I spoke to her about my idea to remove hand holding from schools, she disagreed. If I understood her correctly, her theory is that children need hand holding to feel safe and connected to others. Also, if someone in the class had HH, it is the teacher’s responsibility to let the other children know that the condition is not a big deal, and that holding the person’s hand is okay.
I see where she is coming from, but I just cringe when thinking back to when I was a kid. It was really painful to feel different and gross.