- With a constant search for effective therapies and activities that help develop cognitive and motor skills of autistic children, martial arts are now a positive alternative for kids living with this condition.
The relationship between martial arts and autism has been getting much attention recently. Many studies have found that martial arts and autism go well together: autistic children were a lot more social with their peers, and their physical coordination improved as did their self-esteem.Significant motor issues such as compulsive movement, vocalization, and stereotyped hand and body movements are common in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis. While occupational and physical therapy practices can be beneficial in assisting many with ASD, additional physical activities may be helpful as well.
For instance, training in traditional martial arts means emphasizing skill and character development as well as movement patterns. Therefore, repeated patterns of attack and defense serve as an excellent tool for physical and mental training.
Scientific studies have provided evidence that martial arts training could be an effective method for positively affecting motor activity in the autism spectrum as children involved in the reviews have all undoubtedly benefited from the practice.
According to Livan Concepcion, owner and director at the American Ju-Jitsu Center in Homestead, “Most children with autism lack balance skills; in consequence, martial arts help them improve their motor skills, coordination and balance. Likewise, practicing these disciplines helps children improve their attention span since many of them also have attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”
In addition to that, a 2010 study by the University of Wisconsin found that children doing martial arts were more sociable with their peers and had greater self-esteem. Not only did they improve in skill at martial arts, but parents reported positive effects on other activities at school and at home.
Martial arts classes require lots of social interaction. There is an interaction between the teacher and student, as well as plenty of connection with other classmates. Many drills and activities require a partner and cooperation with many other students; this helps in nurturing a comfort level for autistic kids, as they become more familiar with their surroundings and peers.
Additionally, “Martial arts offer its practitioners the opportunity to advance individually according to their levels of progress. In this case, children with autism feel more satisfied to practice because there is no pressure from their peers when things do not go well, as in other team sports. This helps them a lot to develop their self-esteem,” says Livan Concepcion.
For more information about the classes offerings at AJC Family Centers call 305-246-212.