As Margaret Newell H’Doubler so aptly writes in her classic book, The
Dance and Its Place in Education,
as every child has a right to a box of crayons and certain instruction in the
fundamental principles of the art of drawing, whether there is any chance of
his ever becoming a great artist or not, so every child has a right to know how
to obtain control of his body so that he may use it, to the limit of his abilities,
for the expression of his reactions to life. (1925, 33)
Benefits to Children with Special Needs
All of the benefits previously cited can be applied to children with special needs.
Additionally, coordination, listening skills, conceptual learning, and expressive
ability are just a few of the areas enhanced through regular participation—at
whatever level possible—in movement experiences.
Perhaps of greatest importance, however, is the contribution that move-
ment experiences can make toward the special child’s self-concept. Often chil-
dren with disabilities fail to form a complete body image due to exclusion from
physical activity. Similarly, because they do not necessarily perform the same
way other children do, they develop a distorted body image (Gallahue and Cle-
land Donnelly 2003). Identifying and moving various body parts can “help the
child discover how each body part fits into the whole schema of a human body.
This enables the child to explore body boundaries and define his/her body
image” (Samuelson 1981, 53). Achieving regular success in movement activities
will contribute greatly to the child’s confidence—perhaps offering for the first
time an opportunity to feel good about himself or herself.
Another unique opportunity derived from the movement program is the
chance to be part of a group. As the child’s self-concept becomes more devel-
oped, he is better able to relate to others. As the child’s movements and ideas
are regularly accepted and valued, he receives greater acceptance from his
peers. Becoming part of a group—making contributions, taking turns, follow-
ing rules—has the additional benefit of enhancing social skills.