The Benefits of Traditional Martial Arts for Autism Spectrum Disorder

For children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there is a large variety in severity and types of symptoms. Most people on the spectrum face some challenges with social interactions and communications. Sometimes repetitive movements, actions or words or phrases can be observed. The traditional method of physical therapy and occupational therapy are useful in managing these challenges, but additional physical activities can often be helpful. For instance, you’ve likely heard about horseback riding becoming significant in the therapeutic field, but there are more options. Traditional martial arts have proven to fit the mold.

A study from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and McMaster University has found a group of activities that have shown to reduce stereotypic behaviors, improve emotional and social function, and improve cognition and attention. Amongst these activities are martial arts, yoga, dance, swimming, jogging, and horseback riding. In fact, martial arts and horseback riding activities were highlighted as producing the greatest results.

Why “Traditional” Martial Arts?

When you choose a Kung Fu studio or a Martial Arts studio that focuses on traditional methods, you’ll enjoy a practice that emphasizes overall character development and physical skill development. The patterned movements require a mind and body focus. This combination is extremely valuable in creating a strong mind-body connection for physical and mental training.

An additional benefit of adding martial arts into your ASD regimen is that it is fun. Many occupational therapy and physical therapy routines are boring and difficult to stick to. While joining a team or competitive sport can be problematic or impossible depending on the person.

When practicing traditional martial arts, children and adults alike get to focus on themselves. They focus on their own movements, their own progress, and their own thought patterns. As they take visual and verbal cues to reproduce the movements as shown by their instructor they are required to focus and react, which is all within their control to accomplish. With each practice that repeats the movements from the last, they can progress at their own pace and enjoy accomplishments along the way.

If you’re looking for a new activity for yourself or someone else with autism spectrum disorder, we hope you’ll give traditional martial arts a try. We offer a large variety of options from our Children’s Martial Arts program, Adult Kung Fu, and even Yoga. Give us a call today to claim your free introductory tour, orientation, and class. 704.504.8866

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