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Autism and Martial Arts

Autism is a developmental disorder that according to the Autism Speaks affects every one in 150 individuals. Symptoms of autism are characterized by difficulty associating with others, lack of communication, repetitive behaviors, and sensitivity to touch. While normally diagnosed as an infant, there really is no age limit to when the disease is finally identified in a person.

Autism has a wide range of impact, with mild cases only showing slight signs of the disease to the more severe which impact the patientís ability to function in society. This makes living with autism very personal and specific to the patient in question. For some, Martial Arts has been a means to learning how to cope with the symptoms of autism.

Martial Arts provides exercise focusing on body movement, which allows the autistic to become more aware of themselves. The routine that most classes are run under, provide a level of comfort to those living with autism while still introducing them to variability and accepting slow changes. Repetition, which is one of the cornerstones to how one trains, builds a level of assurance.

Martial Arts is also about the mind and joining the mind, body, and spirit. Thus, in addition to training the body, it provides a means to focus the mind and help develop those skills needed to function in life. Martial Arts can also provide a level of self-esteem which can also be helpful to one who might be frustrated with their condition. Becoming an expert in Martial Arts is about accepting yourself and learning to work with what limitations you might have, not simply being the strongest or most fit.

For parents:
If you have an autistic child and are looking towards Martial Arts for help, there are some basic things to consider:

For instructors:
If you are taking on a new student who is autistic, consider a few things before you begin:

Martial Arts can be a very helpful to those living with Autism if managed well and under the right conditions. The training provides autistics with opportunities to develop their motor skills, concentration, and confidence. In addition, the classroom setting with other students provides a means to practice socialization skills. All of these are important to helping to learn to cope with the symptoms of autism.

For more information about Autism, please visit the Autism Channel here at BellaOnline: http://www.bellaonline.com/site/AutismSpectrumDisorders

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