Singing Hands – Family, Fun and Friendship

Emily Sutton by Emily Sutton Additional Needs

Emily Sutton

Emily Sutton

I was launched into the world of special needs on New Year's Eve 2012, on the birth of my son, Jenson. He is fabulous, sprightly and loving, and ha...

Singing Hands – Family, Fun and Friendship

On Sunday we delighted in the annual Singing Hands Summer Show which is always an absolute highlight of our family’s year. I have written blogs in the past about the benefits of Makaton and other communication aids for Jenson and for other children who have communication and learning difficulties.

But Singing Hands embraces so much more than just signing and singing. When you attend a Singing Hands concert, you are swept up into a bubble of wonder, magic and warmth. The feelings of belonging, acceptance, and mutual joy in a room full of similar families, is simply mesmerising.

Suzanne and Tracy are the founders and performers of Singing Hands, and over the past 23 years have been tirelessly delivering a platform for families of children with additional needs to come together through music.

They sound and look as fabulous as they did two decades ago, and their passion shows no sign of waning.

The ladies’ beautiful harmonious tones are just a small part of what makes this pair exceptional individuals. Through their own first-hand experiences of having young children with additional needs, they identified an opportunity to develop a platform of bringing music and signing to other families who may be experiencing a similar journey.

Suzanne and Tracy have remained at the epicentre of Singing Hands throughout its long lifespan, tirelessly developing live shows and workshops, CDs, DVDs, books and educational resources. They are now the icons of thousands of households across the UK and beyond; their smiling faces and melodic tones appear throughout homes, televisions, YouTube and Spotify daily!

At a Singing Hands show, you can expect familiar and engaging songs, bright costumes and props, surprise guests, playful characterisation, sensory accessories, immersive and interactive touches like bubbles and snow, and most importantly, the opportunity to express yourself to your heart’s desire. You can meet and chat to the crew, and have your photo taken with the iconic ladies, who impressively remember and recall your names!

What a total breath of fresh air it is to be welcomed into a fold of acceptance and mutual understanding, where our children can exhibit their inner emotions with no fear of judgement.

Knowing that those around you will encourage and embrace you and your child.

Singing Hands has not only given us a host of wonderful family occasions to enjoy, but also a platform to meet up with our cherished Chromosome 18 family on a regular basis. Spread across the country, we rarely get together with our small community, but we have developed a tradition to meet up each summer and Christmas. The appeal of Singing Hands has facilitated this for us, and no doubt for many other groups of families across the country.

And let’s not forget the siblings!

You might expect Coby to prefer to be out on the football pitch or doing a similar six-year old’s chosen activity, but he was equally rapturous throughout yesterday’s show as his big brother. Joyously jumping around to the music and signing along, he was engaged in the production and was over the moon to be reunited with his buddy Charlie, another young sibling.

Like so many families, we struggle to find events that the four of us can attend that works for everyone. While we do try to visit the theatre, panto and family shows, the societal expectation of how children should behave is something that is omnipresent in any mainstream setting.

There is an expectation to remain silent, and laugh/clap/interact at prescribed moments only, that can cause parents huge anxiety, and sometimes embarrassment. Even just the act of queuing, access and toilets, or overwhelming crowds or noise, can be too much to cope with in a mainstream environment. Singing Hands goes above and beyond to address and eliminate such issues.

Tracy and Suzanne with all their humility, probably have no idea how much of a colossal effect they have made on so many people. Thank you, Singing Hands, we cannot wait until the Christmas show!

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