By: Lindsay Rogan
A few weeks ago, I read an article in The Huffington Post about a special needs child, Gabe, and a care map that his family created.  His mother, Cristin Lind, took the time to reflect on the village that it takes to raise a special needs child and wanted to create a visual of the support she has.  The result is incredible.  View the whole article and care map here.
These articles always pull at my heart strings because it reminds me of all the incredible people in the world who reach out and help others in need. Be it financial, emotional, or medical support, I am always impressed to hear when people go above and beyond to help those in needs.  It gives everyone a sense of community and helps me to look at this big world as a unique village that is connected through love. I was especially touched to see that “recreational specialists” made it to this care map.  Among the endocrine specialists and orthopedists, people who provided Gabe with recreational time was valued by Gabe and his family.
I’ve met a few people who are surprised about what I do.  They question the importance of dance and art classes for students who need a tremendous amount of therapy each week.  “Between physical therapy, behavioral therapy, and speech therapy, do students with special needs really need recreation?”  My answer is always a resounding “YES”!  Students with so much packed into their schedule need time each week to enjoy music, dance, and art!  It is always difficult to convince arts education skeptics that a drama or music class is important but even more so when we look at the special needs community.  
It took me a long time to realize that TAPA was a tiny community focused on process over product.  A phenomenal June presentation or student sitting successfully through an entire piano lesson was pointless if the student was miserable.  I realized TAPA was such an exceptional place because students have a choice about the classes they can take and how they participate.  They know that they can always relax or skip an activity by sitting with their buddy and reading a book.   It was this awareness that helped me to see how important plain old recreation – and making choices- is to students who are often unheard. 
In my opinion, a perfect would would be brightly painted with lively dancing and live music. So I’m honored to be remembered on Lind’s list of caretakers.  I’m proud of the families, volunteers, teachers, and students at TAPA.   And I’m proud of all the silly dance parties, crazy songs, finger painting, animal yoga poses, and obstacle courses I’ve been a part of at TAPA.  They make not be everything, but they are part of a little overall picture of a special needs child.

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