Autistic boy finds voice through dancing feet
Unable to talk for the first six years of his life, autistic Kasim Rana could only cut loose when wearing his dancing shoes.
A shy boy growing up, Kasim had a severe speech delay, barely uttering a word when he first started school and did not behave like his fellow classmates.
He was later diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum and his mother Julia Robson was worried she would have to take him out of mainstream education.
But what started out as an endearing habit – dancing at weddings and breaking into a jig when he heard music on the radio – led to Kasim, now eight, being able express himself and have the confidence to interact with others.
The St Paul’s Church of England Primary School pupil’s dancing feet have won him a scholarship to attend the Razzamataz Theatre School for a year.
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He collected the accolade on Friday and Kasim has now set his sights on one day performing at the Hackney Empire.
“My dream is to be in a show one day because dancing makes me really excited,” said Kasim, who lives in Grafton Terrace, Queen’s Crescent.
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“I find it gives me energy. I used to be shy and now I’m not.”
Although Kasim always showed a liking for dancing it was only after seeing West End show Billy Elliot that his interest truly piqued.
Kasim and his family moved out of their home in Belsize Park, because they were worried the noise would annoy their neighbours. Now in a basement flat, Kasim spends most of his time dancing and twirling to the blaring stereo.
Ms Robson, 47, a fashion journalist who teaches at the London College of Fashion, said: “He has always struggled at school but he literally comes alive on the dance floor. At the time we just thought it was cute but it became obvious that when he dances all that expression comes out in him.
“He has had his fair share of tough stuff in his life but this has been great for his self-esteem and confidence.”
n Razzamataz, based at St Paul’s Primary School in Elsworthy Road, Primrose Hill, is offering free taster sessions to Ham&High readers. Call 020 8150 7198 or email firstname.lastname@example.org