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How Martial Arts Can Overcome Autism

Martial Arts are for everyone, from young kids to adults, elder people, and people with disabilities or special conditions. Kids within the autistic spectrum have a difficult time with social interactions and sports skills, not being able to focus for long periods of time and losing interest in said activities, except perhaps, martial arts.

We all can! It is the motto of the Association for the Development of Adapted Martial Arts of Montreal (ADAMA). Said association was founded in 2012 by Mohamed Jelassi to help young people and children with special needs, particularly those within the autism spectrum disorders, to start practicing martial arts and sports activities.

ADAMA works with a method that includes training, workshops and the practice of martial arts and aims to combat prejudice and promote equality amongst people. Back in 2007, the MAG Club (Martial Arts Governance) started the KaraTED project that allowed autistic young people to practice karate adapted to their needs, inspired by the TEACCH approach (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children) autistic or living with communication handicaps.

The results were conclusive to the point that today it’s believed that all martial arts can be adapted to benefit young people with development and adaptation difficulties. The idea is to allow a clientele with an autistic spectrum to practice a combat sport that fits their needs and helps them earn the confidence and self-esteem needed to ensure future integration in a regular course with other neurotypical people.

The objectives of the ADAMA project goes around three essential elements: Safety, Health, and Socialization: the principle is to train HEALTH in SAFETY and in a SOCIAL context adapted and oriented towards integration. Other aspects are addressed during the intervention were the improvement of general fitness (strength, flexibility, coordination), the develop motor skills, sharing a hobby with parents whose participation in the activity is important, knowing your body and enriching your cognitive perception Improves concentration and control of emotions.

Preparation for Integration and Socialization

So far, many young people have benefited from their activities. ADAMA wants to be an association that brings together different martial arts clubs that wish to open up to integrate young people with pervasive developmental disorders. ADAMA is committed to training its coaches, equipping and accompanying them so that this new activity in their club is a success, as the case of the MAG Club as part of the KaraTED activity.

Karate is not simply defending oneself or learning how to fight. From the beginning, techniques are taught according to age, capacity and possible physical limitations. With the passage of time, these techniques, which in principle were complicated, are carried out with more confidence and ease. The executions are developed with only mention the technique to be done with highly proficient levels, repetition, help kids to develop routines, and karate is a fantastic way to do so, and to achieve social interaction with other kids, helping them overcome some of autism’s most characteristic symptoms.

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