Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

ECMMA: Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Meaningful Music

Becky Wellman, PhD, MT-BC, DT is a nationally board certified music therapist and Illinois state certified developmental therapist. She has a private practice in the Chicago suburbs providing services for young children with special needs and older adults with memory loss. Dr. Wellman is also an adjunct professor of Human Services at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana.


The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily promote official policy of ECMMA.

Daddy-Daughter Inclusion

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It’s the truth of our work that there are just some kids and their families who touch our hearts more than others. They present special challenges or responses to music that simply make a bigger imprint than others. McKenna is one of these clients. I first met McKenna and her awesome family when she was about 18 months old. She has a rare disorder which causes seizures, problems with hearing and vision, muscular-skeletal issues, cognitive delays, and limited growth. She tried going to school, but found that the environment was too much for her fragile immune system. Her smile lights up the room and she LOVES music.

McKenna’s mom posted a story on Facebook this week and gave me permission to share it with you here. It is truly a tale of victory in inclusion.

This weekend was McKenna’s younger sister’s father-daughter dance. Her one wish was for McKenna to go too. Knowing McKenna’s medical fragility, her mom said that she’d see. She talked to her husband and to the school; both were up for McKenna to join in the fun. As it was a “daddy” event, her mom felt it wouldn’t be appropriate for her to go along, but one of McKenna’s nurses was up for the task. It appeared they were set!

McKenna’s sister insisted that they have matching dresses (as 4 year olds do). This posed a challenge for her mom. McKenna has a significant scoliosis which makes traditional dresses impossible. She found pink ones that were perfect; except to McKenna’s sister. She wanted blue ones so they could look like Elsa. Being the awesome mom she is, she found them. And they didn’t fit on McKenna. Bring on the fairy-godmother! McKenna’s mom has a friend who is a seamstress. She pieced together McKenna’s dress with ribbons and bows so it fit perfectly. They were ready to go!

The day of the dance arrived and everyone was prettied up. McKenna and her sister were in their matching dresses and their dad was in his suit with flowers for each girl. The nurse went along and only stepped in when McKenna was ready for a break. The question remained, how would everyone at the dance react?

They were fantastic! McKenna got to dance with her daddy and be with her sister until she started to get tired and then joined her nurse. The other children, however, didn’t let her rest for long. They took turns visiting with her, complimenting her on her dress and accessories, and asking her nurse questions. They were all polite and kind. No one teased or were mean. McKenna was part of the dance. She was one of the kids. She was loved.

Why do I share this story with you? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know my feelings on having children with special needs included in music with everyone else. How they should be accepted as the wonderful people they are without prejudice regarding their challenges. McKenna’s story is everything I wish for the kids I see. I want them to be princesses and knights like the other kids. I want them to go to the dance and sing and play without concern for others judging them. I want them to feel real love from those around them. I want them to be loved as they should. I want all kids to have music experiences which are meaningful!

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