Aspergers Kids and Karate


What's the best way to handle a bully whom the school has not disciplined effectively in past years? The father is very defensive and does not believe that the kid is bullying my kid. Are karate lessons the best defense? Do I talk to the youngster?


As you know from personal experience, bullying is a serious problem for kids with Aspergers (high-functioning autism). Some experts say that as many as 85% of children with Aspergers are subjected to bullying. Others place that number much closer to 100%. The very symptoms and characteristics of Aspergers are the cause. Since your youngster processes things a little differently, he has become a target for this other youngster.

Most schools have strict anti-bullying policies. These policies include children signing anti-bullying contracts, assemblies and classes by trained social workers, and strict discipline policies. Unfortunately, most schools continue to have a problem, in spite of the policies in place. Some children gloss over the behavior and no one wants to be a tattletale. Favored children, like the athletic and academic stars get away with poor behavior because teachers and coaches may look the other way.

The actions of your youngster’s bully may stem from peer pressure or even abuse. Since the mother is defensive, it is very possible that the family dynamics tend to lean in an aggressive manner. You are in a very difficult position since your youngster’s school has failed to handle the situation properly.

Here are some suggestions and words of encouragement for you:

• Dealing with bullying during school hours is the school’s responsibility. Request a meeting with your youngster’s teacher and the principal. Supply written information about your youngster’s bully. Be truthful about every incident of bullying your youngster has experienced. Firmly request that action be taken immediately.

• If the school fails to handle the issue, be prepared to file official reports with the school board and local authorities. Bullying is a form of harassment and can be treated as a legal grievance.

• Never should you approach the family of your youngster’s bully. It is understandable that you would like to resolve this issue. However, this could actually be dangerous. Most bullies learn their actions by observation. Approaching the family on your own may result in a very negative situation for you at that time and for your youngster as he continues to spend his days at school with this bully and his friends.

• Request an IEP or 504 plan review meeting to address the bullying issues. Request accommodations to protect and support your youngster through these bullying situations. A full time aide or even a transfer may be in order.

Karate lessons are a great idea for any youngster -- but especially for Aspergers kids. Your youngster with Aspergers will appreciate the strict routine and discipline of the sport. It will teach him confidence and build his strength. It should not be taught as a form of defense from bullies, however.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


Anonymous said...

Hallie Stollman Middlebrooks
I put my Aspie 5 yr old into Tae Kwon Do @www.bostocktkd.com at the start of the school year. He has had dramatic improvements in respect, balance, coordination, eye contact, listening skills/following directions. When he started he coul...See More
April 24 at 5:54pm · Like
Brenda Garza
Do not talk to the youngster! The parent will claim all sorts of things. As for karate, etc. I don't know. It will help with self esteem which my help decrease the bullying, but you probably don't want your child using the karate/tkd to ...See More
April 24 at 10:41pm · Like
Tracy Thomas my son as started karatee it has to be with the right instructor he went to loads didnt like the shouting but he as joined a lovely small class he loves it and for the first time i am so proud of him to do this
April 25 at 4:51am · Like
Tracy Thomas i agree it helps eye contact co ordination but it has to be with someone they feel happy with
April 25 at 4:52am · Like
Brad Choma Looking forward to having to contact every martial arts' school in my area in hopes of finding one with some experience or sympathy for teaching autistic children. I also found an article about an instructor in Raleigh, NC who does exactly that. http://www.nhbgear.com/forum/index.php?topic=68536.0
April 25 at 1:56pm · Like

Anonymous said...

My son has started karate recently and i started with him to help him with the anxiety - I'm encouraging him to do this for several reasons - confidence, discipline, balance, strength and self-defense. I have seen this child who I have really worked hard with to overcome most of his problems - social anxiety, touch sensitivity, fear of heights ect, this bubbling energetic confident child(the confidence also took a lot of work) slowly pull himself back into his own world, because of the cruelty of "normal" children and if he needs to take charge of the situation then I give him my blessing and I will gladly sit in the principles office if it should happen. Even his teacher said that it might be good for him, if he himself put these children in place, since they have very little control over it.

Ilene said...

We started our son in karate about a year ago. Honestly, he isn't that good at it with the mechanical skills of it all and he tends to try to be silly in class which he tends to need more direction.

However, he attends classes at Dawn Barnes which seems to be a good fit for kids with Aspergers. They focus on following directions, respect, and the basic skills without being overly physical. They do have a Black Belt Club which is more focused on the fighting but you don't have to attend those classes and they are for kids 7-16. They have different levels based on age. My son is eight so he is on the low end of the dragons classes and he does fine. They have classes for kids as young as 3 I believe.

I've worried that we should pull him out because of his motor skills issues. His own psychologist doesn't recommend karate for him however, I don't think she is familiar with the Dawn Barnes program.

I think it has been well worth it for my son to learn respect, and control.

Bhairav said...

May I, having Asperger's myself, recommend Muay Thai?
That is some real fighting you learn and karate is just dancing, comparing to it...
It is excellent therapy, also motorically. Skillful; yet natural fighting.

Unknown said...

I had SO much fun at this event and feel honored that I was invited to be a vendor. I look forward to the competitions in October to see what else Hwang Martial Arts has in store!MMA in Connecticut

Feral cats in Israel said...

Marshal arts are great for aspies! It helped me get self confidence and helped me get over my rage attacks. Although it wasn't easy with my poor motor skills and social anxiety, I'm so glad I learned it. Aspies can excel at Marshal arts because of hyperactivity and an ability to super focus, a thrive for perfection. And because aspies get bullied so often, sending an aspie to learn Karate is something I'd recommend to every aspie.

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