RESEARCH

Overview
Contributing to research, providing evidence-based practice and movement education of the highest quality are our goals. We do this through our flagship programme Developmental Dance Movement® (DDM) and the complementary work we deliver.

Through a dedicated research objective we are able to:

  • Disseminate the impact of our interventions: DDM, a scientifically designed and structured dance movement programme, focusing on early years development, in particular in the areas of supporting cognition and school-readiness; and Autism Movement Therapy® (AMT), a specifically designed and structured dance movement intervention for individuals on the autistic spectrum, focusing on improving function and strength based strategies.
  • Provide empirical quality outcomes that are repeatable.
  • Integrate the evidence with expertise, providing excellence in the delivery of developmental dance education.
  • Promote best practice and support the continuing professional development of early childhood, mainstream and special education teachers, and therapists from other disciplines.

Our research involves rigorous scientific enquiry using disciplined methods and as such we have contributed to conferences and journals subject to peer review across various relevant disciplines; Dance, Occupational Therapy, Art Therapy, Behavioural Sciences and Special Education.


Examples

Lara, J. Shore, S. and Golding, A. 2016
Movement as a tool for educating individuals with autism.
National Autistic Society International Congress

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Golding, A and Boes, C. 2016
The Efficacy of Developmental Dance Movement as therapeutic Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other learning disabilities. British Association of Art Therapy.

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Boes, C. and Golding, A. 2015
Evaluation of the efficacy of the Developmental Dance Movement Programme as OT intervention for children with Autism. British Journal of Occupational Therapy.

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DDM: The Underlying Theory and Philosophy

Developmental Dance Movement® has a sound theoretical underpinning.

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DDM is underpinned by neuroscientific research pertaining to the mind-body relationship and neurophysical perspectives. Physical experiences are carefully crafted to maximize positive impact upon brain plasticity, development and function. Contributing factors include consideration of the following; increasing levels of neurotransmitters, complex movement patterns that promote cerebral connectivity and those that appropriately stimulate the visual, vestibular and proprioceptive senses likely to positively support any deficits and barriers to learning. DDM is additionally informed by established educational theory. We aim to optimise abilities, strengths and interests through harnessing aspects of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory, Accelerated Learning Theory (AL) and Montessori pedagogy. DDM embraces the phenomenon of multi-level processing and provides a multi-faceted pathway for learning, facilitating opportunities for growth for all children.


Cross-curricular learning. Activities are designed to maximise synthesised understanding and the ‘enactment’ of moving helps anchor learning physically. This multi-level processing has benefits to both conceptual learning and the development of language and communication.


DDM is a genuine model of inclusion which considers the developmental needs of individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities.


MovementWorks utilises the following scientific pedagogies and blueprints for systematic observation:

  • Montessori Observational Practice
  • Laban Movement Analysis (LMA)
  • Neurophysical Psychology Models

original Published Research

Investigating learning through developmental dance movement as a kinaesthetic tool in the Early Years Foundation Stage

The understanding of the significance of movement to learning benefits from advances in neuroscience. This study considered this perspective in relation to the educational theories of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1983) and Accelerated Learning for which little empirical evidence exists.

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MovementWorks aims to further develop this area of dance science research.
Read our latest paper published in The Journal of Special Educational Needs

Expectations and experiences of a dance programme for autistic children: A qualitative study of parents, teachers and therapists.

Ali Golding, Zoe Ambrose, Joanne Lara, Christina Malamateniou, Dido Green
Publication Date: 18th March 2024

This paper is an outcome of having formed an exciting partnership with the Faculty of Education & Health at Greenwich University. Together, we conducted a pilot evaluation of Developmental Dance Movement® (DDM) and Autism Movement Therapy® (AMT) for Primary School Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in conjunction with an autism specialist school.

Parents, dance therapists, teachers and children participated in the study. This ground-breaking publication is the first step towards developing a specific novel measurement tool for dance movement research and evaluating the efficacy and impact of dance interventions in educational and clinical settings.

This research was conducted in association with Dr Christina Malamateniou who was at the time, Research Lead in the Department of Family Care & Mental Health at the Faculty of Education and Health at Greenwich University and Dr Dido Green Associate Professor in Occupational Therapy at Jönköping University, Sweden and Research Therapist, Royal Free London Hospital, London UK

Abstract
This study explores the expectations of dance therapists/practitioners and parents and teachers of autistic children engaging in a developmental dance programme. Information gathered will support development of an evaluation tool aligned with the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) Core Sets for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A qualitative study included a convenience cohort of teachers (n = 6), parents (n = 2) of children with ASD and therapists (n = 3). Three role specific focus groups were undertaken considering potential benefits and challenges of the programme. Content and thematic analysis was undertaken using NVivo12. Findings reflected four positive themes relating to behaviour, skills, social interaction and environmental supports. Therapists, teachers and parents focused differently on stereotypical and restricted behaviours, environmental supports and habits and routines respectively. These themes also emerged as challenges (to implement/achieve); with parents identifying more emotional and behavioural restrictions. A fourth challenge theme of transferability of skills emerged from teachers and therapists. Items mapped against 28 ICF Core Sets (across the lifespan) and six to ICF categories, with creativity and imagination mismatched. Findings highlight need for a specific outcome measure for dance and/or movement programmes for autistic individuals that captures meaningful functions across ICF domains for differing stakeholders.

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DISSEMINATING OUR RESEARCH

Presentations

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INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES

Led by our Founder and Director Ali Golding, MovementWorks has had several repeat invitations to present at The World Conference of Movement and Cognition

The scientific committee of which are:
Chair Gerry Leisman, Professor of Neuro and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Haifa and Professor of Restorative Neurology University of the Medical Sciences of Havana.

Board members include:
Tal Dotan Ben-Soussan, Research Institute for Neuroscience, Education and Didactics, FPP.

Joav Merrick, Professor of Paediatrics, Child Health and Human Development, Division of Paediatrics, Hadassah Hebrew University, Kentucky Children's Hospital, University of Kentucky, Professor of Public Health, Center for Healthy Development, School of Public Health, Georgia State University, Medical Director of the Health Services, Division for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, Jerusalem, the founder and director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Israel.

Calixto Machado, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Havana.

Robert Melillo, Associate Professor of Developmental Disabilities at National University of Health Sciences, Co-founder and past President of the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehab.

Martha Eddy, Independent lecturer on embodied cognition, eco-somatics, the interaction of neuro-motor and socio-emotional development.

Harvard University, July 2018
Joanne Lara, Stephen Shore and Ali Golding
Dance movement as a tool for educating individuals with autism

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Tel Aviv University, July 2019
Ali Golding, Dido Green and Ayala Nardi
Augmenting learning through dance

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University College London, June 2023
Ali Golding and Nicole Zimbler
The science of yoga and dance as applied to autism spectrum disorder: Theory and case studies in practice

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Led by our Founder and Director Ali Golding we have been invited to make regular contributions to New York University’s International programme; Comparative Perspectives on Autism and Well-Being, Shifting to a Strength Based Paradigm

The programme is led by
Dr Kristie Patten whose research examines strength based practices in inclusive public school settings. Former Chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy, Dr. Patten is the Principal Investigator of the NYU Steinhardt's ASD Nest Program, supporting New York City Public Schools’ largest inclusion program for autistic students and is on Chancellor Banks’ Special Education Advisory Council. She co-chairs the Global Center for Inclusion’s Research Collaborative.

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We have also collaborated with Adelphi University presenting at The Expressive Arts International Summit at NYU and accredited International Autism Training and Certification Programme

Led by Dr Stephen Shore
Dr. Stephen Shore is an autistic professor of special education at Adelphi University. Author of several books including: College for Students with Disabilities, Understanding Autism for Dummies, Ask and Tell, and Beyond the Wall, currently, he serves on the board of Autism Speaks, and is one of the first two autistic board members in its history, looking to improve the potential of those on the autism spectrum.

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