Who doesn’t love a good magic show? Maybe it’s the funny magician, or the challenge of figuring out how exactly he managed to get out of that chained box in under three minutes. For magician Kevin Spencer, the magic he produces on stage has been adapted to be used for an audience utilizing magic for a different purpose. Hocus Focus, Kevin Spencer’s brain child helps children with disabilities learn new skills.
The idea is to incorporate magic tricks into the learning process; in order to garner the interest of the children and encourage them to develop their abilities in areas like fine motor skills, memory skills, planning, and communication. Magic seems to open up certain individuals with disabilities to a new talent. Practicing magic often requires an audience, this encourages children to develop their social and communication skills, while having fun at the same time. The program is used at various camps, one being The Flint Hills Summer Fun Camp, located in Manhattan, Kansas.
On the website of Hocus Focus there are many resources for both students and teachers who hope to learn more about what magic can do to enrich their lives. The teacher workshop is designed to teach both general and special education teachers how to teach through magic tricks with specific tools. For student workshops, it’s just the opposite. They’re shown how to create the illusions, then how to plan them out and implement them in front of an audience of their peers. For some individuals this can be a real turning point in how they communicate to others. Magic finds a way to touch their lives that other methods of teaching might not.
The Hocus Focus Project and the Healing of Magic program, both founded by Kevin Spencer, are registered with the National Board for Certification in Occupation Therapy and have the Approved Provider Status of the American Occupational Therapy Association. While recognized as an approved program, Healing of Magic, is still making modifications. Falling back on visual improvements isn’t what the team can rely on to move the Hocus Focus project forward, according to Spencer, it’s also taking down this information “empirically and statistically” in order to further develop it. The organization has recently partnered with Kansas State University, and build upon its achievements with more rigorous therapeutic data.