I have just watched SKY1 “Got to Dance”, James is amazing so controlled as a dancer, and he was so natural, i hope he goes along way, his dad had to sit in the front row because of his Anxiety, he got three Gold stars from the judges, and even made one judge cry she was so overwhelmed by his dancing! Well Done James!!, His mum dad and twin brother must be really proud of him, i wish him the best of luck and hope he does really well!
James A 10 year old boy with autism, James Hobley, is taking part in Sky1’s ‘Got to Dance’ series, due to be screened on Sunday 3 January. There has been a lot of interest in James’ appearance, which has led to some media speculation that a person with autism might not be able to deal with the pressure of the competition or the surrounding publicity.
His mother said
James is still attending special school and that will continue for the foreseeable future, but his behaviour and concentration have improved greatly. He will always have autism, but it is like someone has switched the light on inside him. I don’t really know how else to describe it. He now has a focus in life and he puts nearly all his energies into improving his routines on the dance floor and learning new moves.
We are at competitions at least twice a month. Our lives have become governed by competition dates and class times, etc. James has four private lessons a week and two classes every week. He is using a bar on his bedroom door frame to exercise and also doing 50 press-ups a night. You should see the little muscles in his arms.
He is totally focused on fitness and dancing now. Spinning is one of his favourite moves, which I don’t find strange because before he started dancing he would spin around to make himself dizzy at least 20 times a day. Now he does ballet-type spins 20 times a day.
Last weekend, he went to the East of England championships and he won the “open” under 12s boy championship and the “closed” under 12s boy championship. He got third place in the under 14s trios and fourth place in the under 12s pairs dancing, and second place in the under 10s hip hop dancing.
James is nine years old now and is determined to make dancing his career for the future. I once asked him what he would do if he didn’t dance. He was so shocked and said, “Dancing is my life now … it has given me a life … without dancing I’d just be another autistic kid … I don’t want to give up, not ever.”
James has said that when he dances he feels free. He has friends at dancing from other dance schools around the country and he now has a girlfriend who visits regularly who is also a dancer (she is also nine).
For the first time in his life, James actually feels he belongs. He is accepted by most of the children and they don’t see him as a boy with autism. They see him as James first and as a dancer second. The autism doesn’t really come into it at all.
This year is a breakthrough year for James in championship dancing and he is going to be dancing for the “open” British championship at the end of the year.
His two brothers who also have autism are very supportive of his dancing. Alex is now 16 and loves martial arts and does tai kwan do, and George is nine and thinks he would like to try rugby.
As you can imagine, my life is very busy looking after all of them and being the household taxi. I am so thankful that James has found something so meaningful to him and been able to realise his dreams in dancing. My hope for the future is that my other two sons will reach their potential and find their own dreams to pursue. As long as they all have fulfilling lives, I will be more than happy.
By Sheila Hobley
Amanda Batten, head of external affairs at the NAS, said “Autism is a spectrum condition. This means that while all people with autism share certain difficulties, particularly with social interaction and understanding, their condition will affect them in different ways. With the right support, a person with autism can achieve the same as anybody else and it is vital that everyone is given the opportunity to reach their full potential. James has always had a love of dancing and dance competitions and asked his family for the chance to take part in this show. We will all be keeping our fingers crossed and wish him the very best of luck. We know that there will be plenty of people willing him on around the country.”
Davina Mccall said
‘But it’s not like that. James is a gifted dancer and, in fact, dancing has helped him in the most amazing way.
‘He hasn’t been put in the firing line to be laughed at. Viewers will love him.
‘I am very protective about anyone who goes onto any of the shows I do, including Big Brother. I would hate the idea that someone would be upset.
‘I want people to enjoy the experience. We go out of our way to make sure the contestants, especially the kids, are looked after.
‘If anyone cried at auditions I would rush out to comfort them or take them to their families.
‘The judges on our show are also sensitive to the auditionees, especially the kids.’