Autism & Scottish Dancing Events

Early in 2021, the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland made an offer of small grants under the theme ‘Getting People Dancing’ in a bid to both encourage dancers back and to engage with groups who face barriers to taking part in any form of traditional Scottish Dancing.

SDTA Member Catherine Coutts was awarded a grant to run two events for members of the autistic community.  The morning session was a series of presentations:  The first – entitled ‘What is autism’ was given by Autism mum and campaigner, Liza Quin and looked at the challenges facing those on the spectrum on a day-to-day basis.  Cath then gave a short talk on some of the considerations when running classes and events and finally Caroline Brockbank from CeilidhKids gave a case study of an autism-friendly ceilidh which she had run together with TailorEd in Edinburgh. The presenters were supported by members of the autistic community in Fife who kept us on the right track and delegates who shared their own experiences from the floor.

The second event – a relaxed ceilidh – was held in the afternoon.  The music was provided by accordionist Sandy Brechin who had feet tapping and heads nodding. Dancers and carers had been provided with tickets in the form of social stories with information and visuals including a symbol for each dance which was displayed at the pertinent time.  The ceilidh dances were demonstrated by the small but energetic team of helpers and adjusted to the ability of the dancers attending. 

The presentations were recorded on video and the TDFS hopes to make them available soon.  In the meantime, the slides and resources such as a highland dancing class social story and other visuals are available from