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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Performing for Special Ed Children (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

wbzwolinski
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I was just informed by the director of a preschool/daycare that I am performing at this week that the children are special ed. My impression was that they are just a bit slower. The age group is 5-6. I have never performed for special ed children and am wondering if anyone has any insight, tips, or advice. I use a lot of colorful effects with a lot of audience individual and group participation. I also incorporate a story in one or two of my effects. For example, I am performing an effect where I tell a very abbreviated story about Scrooge. I appreciate any insight anyone can provide.

Thanks!
Wally
Keep it Simple...Play it BIG!!!
KC Cameron
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Raleigh, North Carolina
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Keep things simple, colorful, and fast moving. Some will probably wander, and may get in the way and be "grabby" but they have hearts of gold. Go with the flow, don't expect it to go as smoothly as usual, expect interuptions at odd times for no apparent reason (to you).
Red Shadow
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You never know what type of 'special' they are, and in some cases they will all refuse to be paticipanst in your show.
So take material that you can do solo, without the need of a child assitant, and take enough of it to survive the full length of time.

Its the only audience I've ever had where everyone refused to join in.
disneywld
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Denver, CO
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I have done these shows hundreds of times. I have a nice comment that I posted on my website where I performed for years for severely disfunctional children. I don't know how special the kids are, but I keep it moving, colorful and I do use volunteers.
The Magic of Christopher Manos
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wbzwolinski
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Thanks for the advice everyone! The show went very well. Actually not much different than any other preschool show that I have done. I actually performed two shows for the school. I eliminated the "story" effect from the afternoon show as it seemed to be too long for kids at the morning show and I felt the story itself went over their heads. All in all I believe it went well. I just made sure I used very plain language as I went through the show.

Thanks again everyone!
Wally
Keep it Simple...Play it BIG!!!
disneywld
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Yes, more action, less dialogue works great!
The Magic of Christopher Manos
www.safetymagicshows.com
Paddy
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Milford OH
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I got a call last week from the School for the Deaf asking if a deaf child could "job shadow" us. My wife and I are clowns, she does face painting and I do magic and balloons. We agreed and spent this morning at the school teaching the job shadow as much as we could, getting her into a clown face designed for her, and I taught her some rope and sponge ball magic to perform. Yes this was a whirlwind class that lasted about 2 hours getting her ready. I should add we needed a sign language interpreter to communicate with her.

Well at 10AM the kids came in to see the show, there were about 50 of them, all deaf and some with other handicaps. Raven, the "shadow" was PERFECT!! One of the props we gave her was a feather duster, so as I started the show Raven started to dust the table where I had my props then comes over to me, lifts my hat and clown wig off and dusts the top of my BALD head. You should have heard all those kids react!! Then Raven performed the cut and restored rope and did a simple sponge ball routine. Yes if you and I saw it we would know it wasn't perfect, but the 50 kids and staff in the audience didn't see anything wrong with it. It was so great to see the audience sign, to both Rave and myself "how did you do that?"

In all the time I have been performing, I can't recall a show that "paid me" so highly. No, there was no money involved, but the joy and wonder in those faces, the way the kids came up and all were tapping me to get my attention so they could sign "thank you, this was fun" That makes everything we do, all the rehearsals, money buying tricks, and all the rest of the behind scenes things, worth it!
Peter
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wbzwolinski
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Amen to that Peter! I seemed to enjoy my performance for the special ed children a little more...maybe it is because it went better than I thought it would. I was a little nervous about it. I love entertaining children...this seemed a little special though.
Keep it Simple...Play it BIG!!!
Tony Chris
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I am a full time magician specializing in children's entertainment and the father of two young children 9 and 4 both with autism spectrum disorder. I can tell you that performing for children with special needs is a fantastic experience and extremely rewarding.

I also agree whole heartidly with Captain Kids's comments on keeping things colorful, fast paced and not too complex in your delivery. You may have to adjust timing for some tricks and jokes, and allow for pretty much anything in those types of shows when it comes to these wonderful children. Disruptions, and wandering kids are also quite normal. I have done many of these shows and can honestly say that no two are alike. Just be yourself as you would in any other type of performance and they will get it!

Most importantly, remember that you may have to make certain adaptations for some routines and go with the flow. They are there to watch magic and magic is just as fantastic to people with special needs. Believe me when I tell you that they will love it!
As magicians we create what onlookers call magic. If they truly believe in what we have created for them to witness then magic is real!!!



- TONY CHRIS, A.K.A. Zany Zack



http://www.tonychris.com
KC Cameron
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Raleigh, North Carolina
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Zany,
I am amazed at the amount of magicians who have children with autism spectrum disorder. I know of at least 4 of us. Anyone else?
magic4u02
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Eternal Order
Philadelphia, PA
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Peter: As a deaf magician, I want to personally thank you for what you did for that young girl. I know that it made a huge difference to her. I wish I had someone like that when I was growing up. I was told by many folks (who thought they were doing me a favor) that because I was deaf, I would not be able to do magic or be on a stage or entertain people. It was my parents and the love of a few friends who always pushed me to strive to do anything I wanted to do. Thank you for being that type of person to this young lady. =)

Kyle
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wbzwolinski
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The whole experience of doing this show turned out positive for me. I believe the children enjoyed it. As I mentioned earlier, I was pretty nervous (scared actually) about doing the show especially because I did not have much time to think about it. But it turned out well, and with the experience of that show behind me, I am now cognitive of the fact that I should develop my shows for 2008 in a way that I can adapt them for special ed children if another such opportunity presents itself. I would not let that opportunity pass me by. It was very gratifying in the end.

Believe it or not, performing for special ed children never entered my mind before. In all my years of performing, I have never thought about how I would do a show for special ed children...and amazingly, the opportunity never presented itself. But a big plus that came out of this for me, besides knowing that the children really enjoyed the show, is that I have another point of view to consider when putting new shows together, and that is the view of the special ed kids and what it takes to successfully entertain them. All of you advice and experiences on this topic is playing a big part in this.

Thanks for all your input! It is helping me understand how to entertain this group of kids moving forward.
Wally
Keep it Simple...Play it BIG!!!
vincentmusician
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Toronto
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I am a Special needs Teacher. As someone pointed out, there are many different Special needs levels and abilities. When I get a call for a Special needs Magic Show, I interview the client and find out as much as I can about the audience. Whether Adult or Kids, I usually bring Magic that is very simple and colourful. A lot of Magic that does not require volunteers but also routines that do include helpers. Then when I get there and meet the audience, I adjust my show on the spot. Cheers!
nicpicot
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Why talk down to anyone!??
Russo
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Special Needs -great to perform for. We performed a soft, slow, quiet,etc. story Magic- Show. Just as we finish, a bus load of Clowns arrives with all the clowns jumping out, yelling . What a mess -Shaking, palsy - crying - Nurses and Attendants had their hands full. SO -a smooth, soft, fun, story, Magic is Best. RR
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