Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Autistic Children and Martial Arts

Autism Spectrum Disorder children (ASD) often have little or no interest in structured sport style activities. This can be frustrating to care givers, especially parents and grandparents.

Most sports require specific skills - often physical skills which autistic children tend to lag behind other children of the same age. This can be frustrating and de-motivating in itself, but then add to that possible taunting and teasing from other children and criticism from the coach or parents. This is why it is often common for an autistic child to quickly loose interest in sports.

Many adults find it important that the child participate in some sport of sport or exercise. Certainly it is good for health and can be great for confidence and well being if the child feels successful in the activity.

Something to consider doing for your child is trying martial arts. There are many misconceptions about martial arts - such as the violence aspect or bullying. However not all martial arts programs or schools are geared toward fighting or all about winning tournaments.

There are instructors that are knowledgeable about ADHD, autism or specialize in shy kids. They focus on building confidence, making it a fun and productive, confidence building experience.

Beyond this, it is easier for autistic children to succeed at martial arts because there are fewer specific physical requirements. For example, to hit a baseball, a child has to master swinging a small thin bat and hit a tiny ball. Think of all the precision, the skills in play all at the same time. This is all just to make a connection to the ball, then you can consider which way the ball goes and how far. Other sports have similar requirements, physical prowess or have extremely complicated rules.

In martial arts things can be much simpler. Throwing a punch is something most any child can do. Even a child in a wheel chair can snap out a hammer fist strike. Then they have a sense of accomplishment. They now know a martial arts move, it has a fancy name. They earn a belt and feel respected by their teacher and other students. They fit in.

As they are able to, they can advance - learning more movements, more complicated techniques and steps. However it is very important that time and care are taken. The instructor must be understanding, as well as the parent.

For certain autistic children such as Asperger's type, you may have success integrating counting - such as increasing the number of strikes - 2, 4, 6 or 8 - by twos - or, by tens. The instructor might use Japanese vocabulary to count as an additional incentive.

At the end of the day, be sure to show interest - be sure it is genuine interest, and show genuine praise when warranted. These children can be very smart, and can often tell when they are being given false or exaggerated praise.

Be sure to check out multiple studios or schools, talk to the instructors, find out who would be teaching your child, and what experience they have with your child's traits. Watch a class or two. Ask questions, and have fun with your child.

John Smitty regularly contributes content the AAIG web site (Autism Awareness Information Gateway). First more articles and ask questions there.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_Smitty

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