In pursuit of happiness I knew from a young age that Joseph had a love of music and dance and we’ve always been intrigued as to where that comes from (yes I love music and dance but display absolutely no talent in those areas!). He’s always been in tune with the rhythm and been drawn to every musical instrument he could get his hands on, but usually favoured the guitar. Then my friend introduced me to The Wiggles. I had never heard of them, but it wasn’t long before he knew every routine to the song and his speech developed as he started to sing along too. He was able to sing before he could hold a conversation, something which is still visible. I was told on countless occasions that I should start him with dance or music lessons and we dabbled with both. His understanding caused problems and he just wanted to do everything on his terms; a trait that he has probably inherited from me. I decided that we wouldn’t abandon the idea completely but revisit it when he was able to deal with the social elements and his understanding and communication had improved. The opportunity presented itself a couple of years ago after watching a relative take part in a show. Despite there being a great deal of unfamiliar songs in this particular show, he absolutely loved it and I contacted the group’s director about the possibility of Joseph joining. He did attend for about four weeks, and despite me attempting to put in enough provisions and support for him, it didn’t work out. I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth around how it had been handled by those who ran it and I was then nervous around enrolling Joseph in anything again. I gave it some time before I considered placing both myself and Joseph in that position again. It broke my heart when we drove past the place it was held and he’d point it out, oblivious to what had gone on. A very local dance group had been suggested to me previously and it was one I’d had contact with many years ago. I tentatively had conversations with the group's principal and even shared short videos of Joseph. I explained about what happened with the other group but I didn’t want that to deter her from giving it a shot, and neither did I want her to think she couldn't say if it wasn't working. We tried him with different types of classes and he seemed more interested in the street dance so we continued with that. He has his moments where he doesn't join in and silently observes at the back of the room. Usually when that has happened he smashes the routine a few weeks later and we wonder where he has been hiding it. We’ve now introduced a second class, tap, and he appears to favour that at present. At this rate, we’ll be going for the hat-trick and adding ballet to the set! What is brilliant about the group is that Joseph is just Joseph. Nothing more, nothing less. The children, the parents and the teachers are welcoming and nobody is judged for what they may or may not have. Nobody sees the label and Joseph is part of the group. I receive lots of positive comments about Joseph and his dance skills and every week he looks forward to going. He has a purple polo shirt with his name on. When he puts it on he knows it's time for dance class. He’s now taken part in three dance shows, the first being at the main theatre in our town. I was incredibly nervous as to how he would react in that environment and how he would be perceived. I needn’t have worried as he owned the stage and everyone took him to their hearts. His dance teacher has always had a ‘can do’ approach but takes into consideration Joseph’s needs. Unbelievably, he has now taken three dance exams and been awarded honours in them all. The pivotal moment came when we attended the annual presentation recently and Joseph was awarded a trophy for his achievement in tap and I was awarded the parent trophy. The gratitude I have for this group is immense and they have gifted us something that truly cannot be bought. I wouldn’t say Joseph has a ‘special talent’ for dancing but I know for certain that he, I, and anyone watching it are provided with the greatest of joys. Nothing can make me prouder than seeing his beaming face when he is shuffling to the front of the stage and wanting everyone to see him. Tina is mum to Joseph, an eight year-old boy with autism, started blogging about their experiences a year ago as Joseph and his Amazing Spectrum Coat. She tries to be honest about her feelings and experiences, sharing the highs and lows of their journey and the emotional rollercoaster they are on. Tina has recently been shortlisted for a BAPs Newcomer Blogging Award.