Benefits of Tae Kwon do for Kids with Autism – Autism and Martial Arts
Tae Kwon Do offers plenty of benefits for typical kids, but kids with autism benefit from martial arts training in a variety of ways, from improved social skills to better motor planning and balance. According to Autism Speaks, regular physical training benefits autistic children in more ways than one, since up to 46% of ASD kids are also overweight and have poorly developed muscles and coordination.
Improved Social Awareness and Abilities:
Kids with autism are often excluded from traditional school and extracurricular activities, making existing social difficulties even tougher to overcome. At HTKD our Tae Kwon Do classes are designed to serve the needs of kids of all ability levels without the pressure of a competitive or team sport. Simply being included in an enjoyable, accepting and low pressure social environment can help a child with autism relate to and enjoy a group setting. While every child is different, autistic children can benefit from the improved confidence, discipline and social interaction offered in a HTKD Tae Kwon Do class.
Boosted Balance and Motor Planning Skills:
While the social aspects of autism often get the most attention, kids with this condition often have physical delays as well, particularly in the areas of balance, gross motor skills and motor planning. While many autistic kids receive physical therapy as part of an overall treatment plan, participating regularly in activities that promote balance and coordination can lead to improved skills in these areas. Our focus on basic skill building in a caring and inclusive environment designed to let our special needs students succeed.
Motor planning is something most kids don’t even have to think about, but many kids with autism have trouble performing simple actions and processes others take for granted. The ability to plan, carry out and complete an action, from swinging a bat to going up stairs requires a significant amount of motor planning – planning that typical kids do without thinking about. Taekwondo puts everyone on the same level as they begin to learn a new skill, allowing kids with autism to work at their own pace and with their peers. As your child learns the basics of Tae Kwon Do he will automatically be practicing valuable motor planning skills and processes that can carry over into all aspects of daily life.
Safe Sensory and Proprioceptive Feedback
The jumping, running and kicking moves performed in every class at HTKD are designed to get kids up and moving and whilethey offer improved fitness and coordination, they also offer important sensory stimulation for kids with autism. Sensory seeking – banging into things, jumping or rolling on surfaces and many of the physical stims associated with autism respond well to physical activity.
Benefits extend beyond the martial arts classroom, too, says E. Paul Zehr, PhD and kinesiology researcher. According to this noted movement specialist, the discipline and training experienced in the martial arts can help reduce some of the physical behaviors and stims that plague kids with autism. If your child is sensory seeking, the proprioceptive feedback that is a hallmark of martial arts and taekwondo makes a visit to HTKD a calming and enjoyable experience.
Every child can benefit from the discipline and confidence that comes with regular taekwondo training. At HTKD, we take pride in providing a safe, nurturing and inclusive environment designed to help every child succeed, regardless of sensory or developmental abilities. Want more information about taekwondo classes for kids on the spectrum or with a sensory diagnosis? Contact Master Nick for more information or to see what HTKD can do for your family.
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