Chicago • Illinois
When Anah first started attending Kindergarten, she was immediately labeled as ADD/ADHD child. This was extremely difficult because I knew in my heart that she was not ADD/ADHD. I had frequent meetings with her Kindergarten teacher and school principal to try to get a full understand on why they felt that Anah was ADD/ADHD and all I kept getting for an answer was that Anah couldn't sit still. I was told that when Anah completed her assignments, she would start to fidget around and when asked to sit she would have a hard time. I remember being confused with the schools policy because academically Anah wasn’t struggling, but they had expected her to sit in one place for a long time as she waited for the other kids to get done with their assignments. As a parent this was hard to understand because in my mind I had thought that this was a typically 5yr old behavior but the teacher had told me that she had worked with kids with ADD/ADHD and Anah had all the symptoms. Still in my heart I did not fully agree, but I allowed the school to put her in a behavior program so that they could make their assignment and whether she would need medication. Anah was academically smart and I questioned myself every night with tears in my eyes whether I had her in the right school. I had asked the teacher to give her more work to keep her busy and I was told that she was not allowed to go above the curriculum for one child. It was very upsetting because I felt that Anah was not being academically challenged and she was pulled out daily for an hour to plan with a Rabbit (apparently there was some scientific studies about Rabbits and kids with ADD/ADHD) for the behavior program. For five months I allowed the school and the teacher to do the behavior program assessment on Anah and was later told that after their findings that they recommend medication so that she can be still in class. This was very tough on me because I felt like the school was giving up on my child and referring her to medication as an easy way out. I had read stories about people being misdiagnosed and I was afraid that this was what was going on with Anah because something in my gut still didn’t feel right. THEN CAME DANCE.... Anah came home with a permission slip to participate in a dance number for the Black History month program and I went ahead and signed her up because I thought it would keep her busy but little did I know that this would be beginning of her saving grace not. I remember she would come home after her dance practice teaching me the moves and dancing all over our apartment and I kept saying to myself that she must be really having a ball with that dance class for the Black History program. Fast forward to the Black History month program, I remember sitting in front row preparing myself for what I did not know would be the start of her dance life. I remember crying and feeling so amazed that Anah was able to do a dance routine like that and I said to myself I must let her continue to dance. I later contacted the dance teacher (Mrs. Kristi) who taught the dance number at the school and had recently started Itwirl dance company and she remembered Anah from the schools performance and was excited to have Anah start training at her studio. At first I didn't tell her about the issues that were going on at her school with the ADD/ADHD assessment because again I didn't want her to also label Anah, but it didn't take long for me to tell her. I had signed Anah up for West African dance and at that time there were only two girls signed up including Anah and the teacher who was teaching the West African dance class at that time had relayed a message back to Mrs. Kristi, that she could not get Anah to pay attention in class. I remember when I got that phone call I CRIED because everything that she was saying was similar to what her teacher at school was saying, BUT in my gut I just couldn’t stomach Anah being diagnosed ADD/ADHD. I remember calling Mrs. Kristi back and informing her later about Anah’s issues at school and the face that she was not being able to stay still and I remember Mrs. Kristi saying these very words to me which I still hold in my heart today “Anah is just in love with movement”. I had never heard anything like that or those words before; because it was always “Anah can’t sit or stand still”. It was refreshing to know that Mrs. Kristi understood where I was coming from as a parent because she too as a child had a hard time sitting down and dance saved her life. I starting to say those words to Anah so that she can start believing in it when someone would tell her that she as ADD/ADHD. Mrs. Kristi later suggested that Anah do ballet, which Anah did for a few months and although she had mastered the technique of ballet, we both knew that Anah need more. She needed more movement, so Anah transitioned over to hip/hop. Hip/Hop was Ana’s saving grace! Mrs. Kristi was Anah’s saving grace! Not only was Anah able to learn how to sit still and pay attention from taking dance classes but she was no longer attending her behavior program at school where she watching a Rabbit. Dance helped Anah to understand when she should move, and when not too! Dance helped Anah to appreciate movement and express herself! Dance helped Anah not be diagnosed as an ADD/ADHD child! Dance helped Anah not to rely on medication! To date Anah continues to dance under Mrs. Kristi taking Jazz and hip/hop. Anah’s favorite dance style is Jazz as it encompasses the movement of ballet and hip/hop. Anah dances because it’s her saving grace! Anah dances because she can MOVE with no judgment!!