Performing for Mentally Challenged Adults

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Postby mai-ling » 03/23/10 01:59 PM

I thought I'd post something here since someone has
posted something about performing for seniors
(re: ... ber=214295 )

A lot of my concerts are in that circuit as mentioned in
the thread and I've expanded in working with my music in
a theraputic way for those in the upper stages of Alzheimer's
(6-9) where they are considered lower functioning.

But I work in all areas and each one is different...


This is another in the faceted world that people don't
talk about performing.

I did my first concert for a group last night and it was a fun
and amazing experience.

My father who performed at the first Special Olympics
in Chicago in the 70's said that what he did then was
different than what I did.

He also added that he could never do what I did either.

So its not for everyone.

Just a couple of things I like to say if you do consider
or perform at a center.

they are no different than anyone else.

Be Patient...they will come up and talk to you while you're setting up.

Sometimes they'll ask you the same questions over and
over again. ... just go with it.

If they walk by you they will stop in front of you and
sometimes shake your hand. Just say Hi and shake their
hand, they'll like that and it makes them good.

Some situations they may not behave but in most cases
they will and they are very attentive.

They are a excitable bunch so they respond to you well.

Talk to them when you are doing your act.
Ask them questions. They like that interaction.

Don't be afraid to include something they can learn.
They love to learn and be exposed to new things.
Stimulating material goes a long way.

If they come to you and give you hug, let them.

Its more full filling than performing at a coffee shop
like starbucks ... (trying to earn gas money home).
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/04/10 03:20 AM

Very nice information and good on you.

We have a mentally charged fellow in our immediate family (an adopted son)... who's 32 chronologiclly, but around 8 mentally.

He's part of a friendship club of like people (all graduated from same high school speciala education class).

Once a month we all get together for a lunch and movie, or bowling or to a museum, etc. and celebrate birthdays.

When I perform I don't do "kid show stuff" but adult standards. Amazingly some of them analyze and can figure things out.

They're a great and loving bunch.

It's to bad so much of society sees them, and their often mongolois look, and kiss them off.
Stay tooned.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/04/10 12:37 PM

Couple of thoughts on this: Fast is not the same as clever. And a quote from a story "... that every vital impulse in human life is entirely pre-rational".

At a guess - much more of how your permformance goes over will depend on how well you can get the "en-rapport" message of 'this is for you' across right from the start.
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Postby mai-ling » 08/28/10 03:22 PM

Thanks Pete!
That means a lot to me what you said.

They have asked me back (this coming Tuesday
evening), so that means I did good.

My cousin in LA taught in this area of special education
and developed the course for using sign language.
It was an amazing breakthrough story that a made
for TV movie was done. This was back in the early 80's.

A significant part in that area of education that
is extremely important.
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Postby GregMcMahan » 01/10/11 06:01 PM

I LOVE performing for groups of developmentally disabled people. One of my best shows was for a group in Staten Island ( ... 1-2003.pdf) when I toured with the Cole Bros Circus as "The Wizard of Odd". The people there were the most friendly, outgoing and appreciative bunch I had ever met. Their reactions to my show were sincere and afterward the hugs and smiles never ended.

If you're booked for an audience like this, you're in for a real treat! Have fun and the people will also!
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Postby CharmingCheat » 02/10/11 08:30 PM

Very well thought out and wonderful information. My uncle is mentally challenged and I enjoy doing the occasional effect for him. its nice to see this information out there

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Postby Xavier » 02/15/11 12:31 PM

I am the house magish at americas oldest magic bar the safe-house in Milwaukee. Sometimes I walk into a situation where there will be a mentally challenged/autistic kid and its difficult.

I have had parents tell me that magic helps these children. It allows their brains to focus. Rather than being focused on words and people, you give them a visual task which is fun and just a simple muse.

Heck thats all I want for my audience... A few moments to forget about their lives.
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Postby mai-ling » 02/15/11 09:16 PM

@charmingcheat thanks! I'm happy you enjoyed what I wrote.
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