John was diagnosed at an early age as developmentally delayed including speech apraxia; a motor speech disorder resulting in him having a difficult time saying sounds, syllables and words. So when his school informed us about Special Gifts Theatre as an opportunity, we were curious as to how they would adapt to his special needs. Little did we know…
John’s first production was Music Man when he was just five years old. His participation required a great deal of assistance from the Special Gifts team of therapists. During the first year, he had a difficult time focusing during practices, transitioning on and offstage, interacting, making friends as well as comprehending the story and music. But on the day of the performance John shined! He proudly wore his costume, marched on stage and participated in the song and dance routines with wonderful assistance from his peer mentor. Eight years later, John has blossomed in the program, receiving larger roles, has his own speaking lines, and even escorted Cinderella to the ball!
We have seen how John’s experience with SGT has impacted him not only on stage, but in the classroom at school. His self confidence has grown ten-fold! He has participated more actively in his music class including performing in all of the school musical assemblies without an aide or assistance from his teachers.
This year, will mark John’s 9th Special Gifts production. We are so grateful to the staff, team of therapists and most of all the wonderful peer mentors who give up their time and other extra school activities to dedicate so much time to assist the students in the cast!