Saturday, June 9, 2012

Finding outlets to your child’s endless energy

I recently heard about a karate studio that began a new program that is being offered for children with autistic spectrum disorders. The idea for offering a specific program for a broad spectrum of Autistic children came from one of the parents that trains with the owner and Sensei (instructor). 

"One day my student dropped by my school with her son and she walked around the studio with him," commented the instructor, "he was very excited and interested in the mirrors and the pictures. We asked him to do a couple of basic kicks and he did really well. The next time she brought him to the studio, she had him put on a karate uniform, and he was laughing and couldn't wait to get into the car and come to the studio. This is when the idea hit us; why couldn't we tailor a program of martial art's for kids with Autism?"

After a few visits, the boy's ABA Board Certified therapist started coming to the studio, rather than the boy’s house, to help develop a curriculum and structure for him.

"The goal of this program," commented the Sensei, "is to help these children find an outlet for their pent up energy. I know some parents are going to be concerned about their child learning how to kick or punch, therefore think they will be more aggressive, but we believe giving the child an opportunity to exercise, will actually help them to relax. Just like any normal child, these kids have a lot of energy and they don't have a way to use it. In addition, the martial art's is all about learning self-discipline, focus and concentration. Lastly, we hope that these classes will provide a social setting for these children to meet and have fun with other children."

"The goal of this new program is to tailor the curriculum to each child and target the areas they need the most help with," stated the instructor, "I also understand that I will need to be flexible with each child and work with the parents to make this a successful program!"

Initially, one of the requirements will be each child will need a "shadow" with them during their class. This can be a parent, an adult sibling or therapist.

What a great idea. And it can be any sport activity. I recommend group sports so there is social interaction. Many kids spend their long after school hours inside their homes, sometimes with little or no space for physical outlets and no social interaction, which is a recipe for disaster. They accumulate energy and if we do not direct them to appropriate activities, they find their own activities with known results. Change the dynamic of your household by enrolling your kids in sport classes. And when you are there, try it yourself. Trust me, it is worth it.

Daniel Adatto, BCBA

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