Helen Sharpe and her six-year-old son, Grayson, share their experiences of Perform holiday courses.
Grayson has high functioning autism and ADHD. He goes to a mainstream school and participates in everything. However he can lack focus and, in some social situations, he finds it hard to know where the boundaries are.
Luckily, the teachers at Perform have always been unfazed by his autism. We’ve now done holiday courses based on Aladdin, Wizard of Oz and Jungle Book and he has absolutely loved them all. The themes really fire his imagination. He rushes home each day bursting with enthusiasm. As well as the singing and dancing, he loves the craft activities, designing props and making invitations to bring home. And every night, he’s practising with the videos. The only problem is getting him to stop!
On the last day, the children put on a show with costumes for friends and family. They all get a speaking part so they feel they are making an important contribution but there’s no pressure. I am always thrilled by the way Grayson rises to the challenge and feels a real sense of pride and achievement after each performance. And, as soon as one course is finished he’s jumping up and down shouting “I can’t wait for the next one, Mum!” When he found out Peter Panwas next he was so excited; he’s totally obsessed with pirates and Captain Hook.
The courses have made a huge difference to his social skills, eye contact and confidence. In fact, in a recent poetry competition, he stood up in front of the whole school, recited Perform’s Mississippi Mud Pie rap...and won! Amazing.
We’re very impressed with Perform. For us, it’s the perfect balance between activity and family time during the holidays – a fun, positive environment for children to express themselves creatively while learning the values of teamwork. The teachers are brilliant – really experienced – so we can relax knowing our son is in safe hands and having a good time. As for Grayson, he can’t wait to tumble down the rabbit-hole to Wonderland!
In Grayson’s own words
What do you think of Perform holiday courses?
I like them because they are fun and I make lots of friends. Our family can watch and the costumes are brilliant and cool. The funniest bit is when the teachers do a singing competition and they all get it wrong!
What is it about Peter Pan and Captain Hook that you like?
I can’t wait to go to Peter Pan camp because I love the naughty pirates and the clockodile. My favourite character is Captain Hook because he is a baddy. He has a hook and a red costume which I really like. I like Peter Pan and the Lost Boys as well because they are the bosses and there are no grown-ups to tell them what to do.
What kind of stories do you like?
I like all kind of stories – fiction and non-fiction. Stories are cool and help me come up with new ideas for plays. I perform plays in the playground. I give out all the best roles to my friends.