Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy Feet

Several years ago, this animated film came out featuring singing penguins. There was one among them who discovered he couldn't use his voice like the others, but he expressed himself another way - through dance.

As a former professional dancer, I was once expert at saying things without using spoken words. Now that I am mother to a non-verbal child,  alternative forms of communication take on a whole new meaning.

On my birthday this year, my family visited our city's Ocean Park. We'd tried to go once before, but the queues then made it impossible with an impatient, crowd-unfriendly toddler in tow.

This time round, we chose a day when the city was virtually empty for the Easter four-day weekend. Little A breezed through the fish tanks, only spending a long time admiring the sea horses.

When we got to the penguin enclosure, however, there was an opportunity  to get up close and personal. Big A took a look inside, then paid the fee and took Little A in. Neither of them wanted to hold up the slippery fish to feed the penguins, so the Au Pair was tasked with that job.

Little A loved being close to Pingu and friends. There was a time when he would cry seeing animals in cages, but being in their "natural" environment like farms and open areas has always thrilled him, to the point that we've considered animal encounters as possible therapy options. (Next up, swimming with dolphins.)

Many parents and professionals have related how children with special needs are sometimes brought  of their shells by developing close relationshps with a particular animal. We'd love to discover if this would be true for Little A, if only we didn't live in a small apartment in the middle of a bustling metropolis.

Apart from this, we push on with Little A's alternative communication modes.  May our society get to the point where happy feet and happy fingers will be enough to include these individuals who lack their own  voices.

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