Martial Arts and the Autistic Spectrum
The Autistic Spectrum isn’t very well understood by those that have very little connection to those within the Autistic Spectrum. In fact, many people instantly think one thing or the other, and often dismiss behaviour wrongfully as naughty.
So why am I mentioning this in a blog that should be about martial arts?
Let me put something straight:
At MAC we believe that every child deserves a chance to learn
Not many studies have been done on the effects of martial arts on people within the Autistic Spectrum. There have been some, and the results are quite promising.
A stereotypical behaviour of those within the autistic spectrum is repetitive behaviour. The effect of getting upset when routine is changed.
OK, so when you think of martial arts, repeatedly covering the same or similar techniques may come to mind. You may also think that this may be detrimental to someone on the Autistic Spectrum and exacerbate their repetitive behaviour.
Well, I actually wondered about this myself, and so I researched it.
Studies show that stereotypical behaviour is reduced when children train in martial arts (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22502844). Not only that, any communication deficit is also reduced. Even better still is that any positive effect that children get from training in martial arts doesn’t just stop when class ends. These positive effects are shown to continue further on into the future. All this from simply attending martial arts lessons just a few times each week.
So this all sounds great, but there is the social side too.
Many adults find it quite easy to talk to other people, and even children find it relatively easy to make new friends. However, those on the Autistic Spectrum find it actually quite difficult to make new friends in the normal day to day setting.
This is different at a martial arts academy like MAC, where friendship and understanding is taught alongside the techniques. This means that all the children at the academy are also very much wanting to make new friends with other children that enjoy the same activity that they do.
Without friends, the world can be a big lonely place, and it is shown that people on the Autistic Spectrum suffer later in life with depression and other issues. So making friends in a happy, friendly environment can give them such a great foundation for life.