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Is Karate Helpful for Kids With Autism?

I work at a karate school with my mom. We have a few kids with autism in some of our classes. How can we meet the needs of our kids with autism?
- Andy*

Karate is a great activity for kids with autism. It helps their coordination, strength, and body awareness — just as it does for everyone! So it's great that you want to help students with autism enjoy your class.

Most kids with autism like having a routine. Routines (doing things in the same way, at the same time, and in the same order) help them know what to expect. If it's possible, you might want to post a list of techniques and stances that your students with autism can follow along with. And, if you're teaching younger kids, it might help to use a picture to help show the students what to do. It might help other students too!

Kids with autism can get overwhelmed with too much language, noise, or visual stimulation. So keep directions brief and clear, and the rest of the room quiet with not too many pictures or decorations on the walls. Some children with autism are very sensitive, and things like noise and touch make them act defensively. It can help you, as a karate instructor, to know this.

Autism affects people differently. So you might have kids in your class whose autism shows up in different ways. Getting to know the kids individually will help you find out what works best for them. You can also ask the kids' parents for tips on helping them get the most out of your class.

Reviewed by: Wendy Harron, BS, OTR/L
Date reviewed: March 2014

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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