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    Teaching students with autism

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    GregW

    Posts : 102
    Join date : 2013-01-22
    Location : Norman, Oklahoma

    Re: Teaching students with autism

    Post by GregW on Fri May 23, 2014 5:44 am

    Thank you all for your experienced and insightful replies. I have searched a lot on information regarding teaching martial arts to children with mild autism. Almost all the articles I found focused on teaching them a striking art, not judo. I think there are some challenges in judo that the striking arts don't encounter so much. Apparently many autistic people are bothered by personal space issues and don't like to be touched. That's definitely an obstacle when it comes to a grappling art like judo.

    I found this article that was somewhat helpful, although it didn't relate directly to any kinds of martial arts instruction. It did help with understanding some of the perceptual issues students with autism have.

    Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism

    Since I posted this topic, many have voiced concerns that went through my mind. There several "strategies" I used over the past few weeks, some of which were helpful.

    1. I had the parent stay instead of just dropping his child off. I politely made sure he was clear on the fact that I'm in charge while the kid is on the mat and that he should not interfere. However, if his son would not respond to discipline, I would send him to sit with dad for a few minutes. He would have to sit quietly and not play around. Dad supported this idea. Junior didn't like sitting with dad and missing the fun. It solved the attention-getting aspect of his misbehavior.

    2. Since we are a small club, I was able to block off a practice area for him and his partners. No one else would enter that space without permission.

    3. The boy was a visual learner. He would tune out with any verbal instructions. I would have my son, an ikkyu, and his partners work nearby. I instructed the boy to watch my son and do exactly what he did. I limited verbal instruction with him and had him focus on mimicking my son's moves. When things didn't work right, I'd refocus him and get him to self-critique. "What went wrong? What did he (my son) do different?" Often the kid would reply, "His knees were bent more" or "his foot was out farther," etc.

    4. I made sure to explicitly praise him for any good effort. I routinely try to give positive reinforcement to students often, but I had to be conscious to be especially observant with the autistic boy.

    5. I paired him up often with a much larger kid--one that was a little more "durable." This toned down his propensity to let his enthusiasm get out of hand and get too aggressive. He learned a few lessons about jita kyoei the hard way. Out of his own self-preservation instinct, be started to model a little better self-control. A couple of weeks ago, in randori, the kid pulled off a beautiful seoinage against the larger kid! That was a real confidence-builder for him.

    Overall, his behavior showed some improvement in a few weeks' time. However, we won't know the end of the story because the dad has decided to take the boy to classes at a school that is closer to home for them. I'm acquainted with the other club's instructor so I forwarded his attendance numbers and points earned to him so he can have them for his records.

    I welcome continued input on the thread because I'm in this as a teacher for life, so whatever wisdom I can acquire from the more experienced instructors here will be beneficial. Again, thank you for all the knowledge shared so far.

    NBK

    Posts : 1060
    Join date : 2013-01-10
    Location : Tokyo, Japan

    Re: Teaching students with autism

    Post by NBK on Fri May 23, 2014 9:47 am

    "... However, if his son would not respond to discipline, I would send him to sit with dad for a few minutes. He would have to sit quietly and not play around. Dad supported this idea. Junior didn't like sitting with dad and missing the fun. It solved the attention-getting aspect of his misbehavior."

    A stroke of genius! Something that penetrated the communication barrier - sitting with Dad is going to suck worse than paying attention, boyo, so pay attention.

    NBK

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