Thursday, May 15, 2014

Autism and Taekwondo


Is Taekwondo Good for Children with Autism.

My answer is, absolutely yes! However I do have to say, it will depend on the child. If they can handle school and therapists telling them what to do all day, then in my opinion, they can learn Taekwondo. Now they probably won't be the best kid there, but it's not about that.
Sierra, my 7 year old with high functioning autism, started taking lessons this year. We decided to enroll her after some bullying issues. Yes, bullied in 1st grade can you believe it? 

Now Sierra has very low muscle tone, is uncoordinated, can be very whiny, has the strength of a fly, and wouldn't hurt a fly if her life depended on it. Just for those reasons alone she should learn taekwondo. Here is why I think it is good for her.

She gets a workout three times a week, more if I make her practice.  Before now she would never get any exercise except in school.

It builds her self esteem. Sierra just earned her yellow belt and I have never seen her so proud of herself before.

She is learning self defense. She has already been bullied, so this will help her if she needs to defend herself against a bully again.

She is building relationships with the other students. There is a comradery in taekwondo and part of their code is to protect the weak (yay). It is also not a team sport where they depend on her to win.

The children are taught to respect each other. No one has made fun of her or treated her different.

She is learning to focus. At the beginning she would be in another world when he gave instructions. She has now learned to pay attention and focus with what is on hand (most of the time).

She moves up at her own pace. Again it is not a team sport so you move up the ranks at your own speed. I do have to say she has kept pace with the others but I do anticipate her to lag as it gets harder.

According to her school, Taekwondo also enhances her self confidence, health, patience, athletic ability, academic performance, and conduct at home. It also teaches respect and self discipline. I would strongly agree with that statement..

Now I have seen a few other kids there on the spectrum, some with less ability than Sierra some with more. They seem to be moving up in ranks just fine. I have also seen hyper kids, shy kids, aggressive kids, heavy set kids, girls, boys, kids as young as 3, and older kids just starting out. They also have adult classes. It's a one size fits all!
Testing for yellow belt
In my opinion all children would benefit from taking taekwondo.

You will need to talk to the instructor first. Ask him if he has any experience teaching children with autism. Let him meet your child, and ask if they can take a trial class. Our instructor lets you take three trial classes before signing up. If they don't have trial classes, maybe you can watch a class. 

Make the child stick with it and you will start to see the benefits. If you have any questions feel free to ask. I will tell you what I know or try to find out.

I would like to give a shout out to our Sabomnim Tim Steger -Owner and lead instructor at North Port Taekwondo

I couldn't imagine a better instructor. His talent, humor, patience, and his understanding of each and everyone of his student's needs and ability makes him a cut above the rest. It also makes him a superhero in the eyes of his students and their parents!

If you live anywhere near North Port, Florida do not hesitate to enroll in his school!








2 comments:

  1. My initial comment didn't post but I happened to research autism and martial arts because I recently signed up my 7 year old son for taekwondo whom is also on the spectrum. I worried a lot today after class because I saw he wasn't really into it but was so very excited when I mentioned the idea prior to his enrollment. I really began to wonder if I made the right choice for him but your blog gave me so much hope and confidence. I truly hope that the taught self confidence, structure, respect and discipline will impact him positively. I sent a long message on your Facebook page but it was taking a while to send so I just wanted to acknowledge my appreciation with hopes that it will reach you !

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