Any parent of a special needs child understands the importance of activities that enhance social and motor skills. The martial arts may hold the key to many benefits for people with special needs. Here is a guide to help you decide whether the martial arts are right for your child.
Benefits to Special Needs Children
Before we discuss whether martial arts study is right for your special needs child, let’s look at how they might benefit from taking martial arts lessons. The life of a special needs child can be reclusive. However, martial arts study is a great opportunity to allow your child to interact with other students on a regular basis. Confidence is another great benefit to special needs students. Not only will they begin to feel more comfortable around other people, but may also be able to assist instructors as they advance. The physical nature of the martial arts promote physical health and development of motor skills. Martial arts study also stimulates brain activity that can benefit memory retention.
Interaction with Others
While martial arts is an individual sport, your child may encounter lots of interaction with other students during a class. For some people with special needs, working around large groups of people may be an uncomfortable or even unbearable experience. The good thing is that this aspect of the martial arts experience can be customizable to your child’s needs. If they are comfortable around lots of people, the local martial arts club may suffice. However, if your child is shy, you may need to arrange private one-on-one lessons with an instructor. The only downside to this is that private lessons are usually fairly pricey.
Unfortunately, many children with special needs also have physical limitations. More than anything, physical compatibility is essential to ensure the safety of each student. While each martial art has different intensities, there are some basic physical requirements for nearly any style. Discuss any concerns that you have with your potential instructor. They will be able to help you decide whether your child will be able to handle the physical demand of their art.
Most martial arts classes are a half-hour or hour long. During the class, the instructor will likely change activities every 15 to 20 minutes with breaks in between. If your special needs child has a hard time keeping focused for this amount of time, this may not be the right activity for them.
Martial arts study requires students to memorize dozens strikes, kicks, blocks, and forms (multiple move routines). For some special needs children, memory retention is an issue. If your child has retention problems, you may be able to customize their training regiment to suit their needs. If your child’s needs vary greatly to that of a regular class, you may need to schedule private lessons with the instructor.