My passion for dance began around the age of six. By age eight I began my formal training. I soon identified that while I saw the importance of classical ballet training in my technique, I was made for expression and athleticism, a style that Contemporary Modern Dance afforded me. I majored in Dance at Brockport State University transferring to Mills College, in California. In recent years I have studied in the quiet of; my kitchen during meal prep, living room during dance parties with my youngest children, and in most recent days-my dining room which has become a make shift dance studio for my daughter and I; including mirrors and a mat (which I have found to be extremely useful in supporting my daughter’s imitation play.
I have the epitome of the modern family. Between my husband Fred and I, we share a blended family of three children; Nate age 17, Anthony age 9, and our youngest Gia, age 3 whom is affected by Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. If you were to walk in our door, at a quick glance, one would see an eclectic colorful home with plenty of toys scattered around and the occasional Cheerios stuck in the sofa cushions. You would smell essential oils, hear all sorts of music and leave with a good laugh and perhaps some sort of gluten-free treat, pending if I got enough sleep the prior night to operate the blender. That’s a visit to the Van Ditto-Warter household. Inclusive, gluten-free, and authentic. Three words that describe my family.
As I danced with my daughter Gia in our home and became more informed about her needs, not only was my belief in Mind-Body Connection [and the interrelation] reaffirmed, I recognized the benefits (beyond the fun) as it provided the vestibular and proprioceptive input she was craving, as we twirled, jumped and bounced. Not only did I see firsthand her ability to focus improve, also it became a fun opportunity to integrate social games and encourage verbalization.
Why S.A.M.E.? Soul and Mind Evolution, an acronym pertaining to the metamorphosis of a butterfly. In addition to my spiritual affinity for butterflies, I began to see my daughter’s physical, mental and emotional state similar to that of a caterpillar within It’s cocoon. A once isolated and introverted little girl, in her own world has slowly been shedding her chrysalis and spreading her wings. Let me make this clear, my husband and I are not trying to shed her of Autism, rather help her to reach her greatest potential and respect her for the beautiful butterfly that she is, that we all are. Potential that has been made possible by the supportive services that she has receives through Early Intervention and subsequent therapists and teachers that come into our home and hearts to offer their skills and support.