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BJJGround Forum >> Teaching Kids with Autism any advice?


9/4/13 8:26 AM
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Judo Scott
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We're getting a student on Thursday who has autism. I met him last night in between classes and he looked like he was going to be a handful. To make matters more complicated it looks like English is a second language for him. Just from interacting with him for 3 minutes I was feeling overwhelmed.

Does anyone teach or have a kid with autism? Any advice would be appreciated..

My big issue is how much individual attention will this kid need? How can I intergrate him into class meet his needs and the other kids?
9/4/13 9:09 AM
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philliphurst
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I have 3 students with Autism or some form of it. One of the students is much more severe than the other two. The two that are less severe just need a little more patience but not much more than a beginner that has had little to no previous athletic type activity.

For the one that is a bit more severe, I get a lot of help from my other students. The class does a wonderful job working with him and I try to partner him up with different people. My classes are 2 hrs plus long and that is a bit much for him so about half way through, we take a short water break and his mom will go ahead and take him home at that time.

Overall, I believe that having such a students is better for everyone.

Hope this helps
9/4/13 10:00 AM
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mikecimm
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i have one that is pretty high functioning.  like philip said, just takes a little more patience.  

my biggest issue is he is a very large 12 yr old and a lot of the kids in my class are around 9-10 yrs old and on the smaller side.  

so when they spar i need to make sure i watch him as he is big and can really hurt someone if he isn't paying attention.  but i've spoken to him and explained that he should work more tech and stay moving instead of just smashing the little guys.  he understood and made the proper corrections during his rolls.

my kids classes are only 45 mins long so its not too long that i lose him or any of the other kids.

as for extra attention, he doesn't get too much more attention than the regular kids.  if there are odd numbers i will pair him with my asst so that he gets the one on one attention i know that will help his absorb the info. 

other than that, he is pretty much on par with some of the other kids in class.  

 

9/4/13 10:35 AM
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Judo Scott
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in the three to five minutes he threw a few fits.. he calmed down when I made him earn a sticker which he was all for. Is that the sort of interaction I should be shooting for at first? Small rewards to get him acclimated to our routine?
9/4/13 10:43 AM
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philliphurst
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How old is he?
It will take a lot a patience and hopefully you have an assistant or other students that can help.
Yes, I think you are on the right path.
Once he gets used to everything, should get easier.
9/4/13 11:12 AM
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Judo Scott
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He's 7
9/4/13 12:51 PM
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Porkchop74
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Make sure to keep him interested . You have to keep them from getting bored . giving rewards is one way also keep the class he is in short and make it fun take out the last 10-15 minute to let the kids play games .

My daughter has aspergers so I know how children can be.
9/4/13 1:11 PM
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Judo Scott
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No they don't train and they don't speak English well.

I think I am going to request he go to the little kids class which he is on the upper age range for. Its shorter and just quick grappling games. Just to get him started and see how it develops
9/4/13 1:28 PM
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philliphurst
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My students are not that young,they are teens.
They are big enough to be in my adult class and that
is where I get so much support (from the other adult students).So our situations are quiet different. However, it does seem like you are on the right track

Best of luck, keep up the good work.
9/4/13 3:03 PM
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672
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Props for accepting the challenge teaching special needs.The 7 year old is really 4 or 5 depending on level of disability. I've taught many special needs kids in 25 years in Martial Arts. Instead of an hour start with half hour and have a shadow because they will wander.KISS keep it simple stupid and repetitive always have a lesson keep it fun.I have an Autistic 12 YEAR OLD that just won EXPERT AT NAGA AND HONOR ROLL STUDENT he shadows my new student who is also Autistic.I'M BLESSED AND SO ARE YOU FOR GIVING BACK
9/4/13 3:09 PM
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Judo Scott
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Well I am going to try I don't know if I have the resources to make it happen. For the little kids its usually just me and I have a hard enough time wrangling them already as some of the kids have behavior issues. This might put it to a breaking point with out more help. I really want it to work so we'll see what we can do. Thank you for the advice please keep it coming
9/6/13 9:52 AM
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Judo Scott
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He came to the longer big kids class and it was pretty much a disaster. He ran all over the mat, threw fits randomly, I got him to participate in one warmup and to stand in line once.

His mom apologized profusely despite me repeatedly telling her there was no problem and it was ok. Which honestly it was I expected it and I had told her that at the start of class. We talked and I said if we get him to do one thing or stay for 10 minutes on the first day we would call it a success.

At any rate shes going to bring him to the little kids class next time which is a half hour. I really don't know what to do though short of having his mom shadow him which see seemed willing to do and I was ok with.

I also used him to demonstrate maintaining back control as well. He was so so ok with it. It seemed to calm him down some and I was trying to find a way to get him to to participate more.

..ugh..

any more advice? How do I keep him from wandering all over?


I'm so lost here and I feel bad about it.

Honestly if I was a fulltime instructor or had more time I would recommend privates first with another kid just to get him in the routine but I don't have the time. :-/

9/6/13 1:06 PM
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672
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Props definitely have mom shadow and work technique with him during class and at home.If motor function is an issue have mom assist son in technique by utilizing sons limbs to accomplish goal.Be fair and firm.At the beginning of class use these rules and shout them out and definitions FOCUS PAY ATTENTION,SELF CONTROL CONTROL YOUR SELF RESPECT TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.You have to have boundaries and small accomplishments to motivate and discipline.Keep the class moving not too much down time.I thinks you will see some light in the half hour class,hope these tips help.If he becomes out of control in class,mom has to assist to curtail behavior and or sit out in lobby lol.
9/6/13 5:24 PM
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gtownhoya
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As the father of an autistic child, while I admire your patience and willingness to work with this child, please do not feel bad if it turns out that the child is not ready for this type of environment. My wife and I do everything we can to mainstream our son (who sounds a lot like this kid) into everyday life. Often, however, even we have to accept that a particular class, movie, event, etc. isn't appropriate for our son. Moreover, it isn't fair to others if our son detracts from their enjoyment. Were I in your position, I would advise mom that her son can participate with an active shadow, but that you cannot dedicate a disproportionate amount of instruction to one child. If that works, great. If not, there are many other worthwhile activities (and in this case, perhaps "better" activities) that this child can try. Phone Post 3.0
9/6/13 6:21 PM
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The Principal
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One way to understand how many individuals with autism adapt to new environments/routines is to think about it as them "cracking the code". Once they learn the routine, they "get it" and understand what to expect. Someone with this disability doesn't necessarily know how to process or assimilate new stimulus and can have a bit of a melt down from the anxiety the overstimulation or confusion can create. Routine, prompting, and developing some standard cues can help. One consideration might be to ask your student's mother if she is comfortable with you communication with his school teacher, have them email you, etc.; you might be surprised how much this can be helpful all around. Phone Post 3.0
9/6/13 7:46 PM
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angrypirate
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We have a kid like this. Luckily, besides the instructor there is at least one to three purple belts helping with the class. He has some mild autism and some other developmental issues.

He's been training about 8 months and can do all the basic movements fairly easily (shrimp, back roll, etc.) He gets side tracked easily, touches the other kids ALOT at times when he shouldn't. We usually pair him up in a group of three, so he doesn't have to focus so long on one drill or position. We let him spar when he wants (mainly positional) with one of the more experienced patient kids, or with one of us.

He is home schooled so I think this might be one of the few times he gets to interact with kids his own age. I know for a fact he has come along way, and his mother agrees. Its not easy but keep at it as long as the parents are willing and it doesn't take away from what the other kids are learning.
9/6/13 8:31 PM
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gtownhoya
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Based on the behaviors you described, I would have mom (or another family member or therapist), and not another student or instructor, actively shadow the child. If the child starts succeeding, mom can begin fading. If behavioral issues increase, mom steps up her presence.

Presumably the kid's parents have a (formal or informal) behavior plan in place, and they can help to identify what motivates the kid. For example, my 8-year old would crawl through glass for anything to do with Thomas the Train. The parents should know what works/doesn't work, and can help you avoid a trial and error process. Finally, I would ignore the negative behaviors so long as they are not destructive or likely to cause physical harm. Overwhelmingly, the best way to extinguish bad behaviors is to not react. Phone Post 3.0
9/7/13 8:07 AM
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672
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Great advice! The Principal is on point there is a code,that you need to figure out for each individual.That is true with all interactions.In my situation I have a student that was 3 Autistic and now 12 unless you know him you won't realize he is Autistic.He shadows the new Autistic child and spoke to him yesterday that behavior was his behavior at 3 and 4 lol.Also the earlier they receive structure the better and communicate with the teachers.
9/7/13 3:16 PM
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budwhite
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I have two autistic children in my kids' class. It was extremely difficult at first and there are still times that they are difficult.  I have 4-5 assistants in every class so I have the benefit of having lots of eyes if I need to spend some extra time with any individual child.

Both of my autistic students go to a special needs private school so I realized I had some good resources.  

I spoke to one of the parents and he introduced me to their PE teacher at school who agreed to allow me to observe their PE class and how she interacts with them in a physical environment.

The thing I have learned most about working with them and observing the teachers is that so many of the same difficulties you have with children are the same difficulties you have with autistic children i.e. inability to focus, defiance, lack of motivation etc.  Nothing new for anyone who teaches children.

What I had to learn was that the reason behind their inability to focus or their defiance was frequently different.

Very careful observation of the children gives me clues as to why they have difficulty i.e. do they not understand what is being taught or are they unable to focus.

By paying close attention to their mannerisms, I get a better feel now for which it is and I must tailor my response to what I believe the problem is.

Now, understand this is the hardest thing I do.  It is not easy.  I would be in trouble if I didn't have outstanding assistants.

Teaching kids is already hard; teaching disabled children can be even harder.

That said, as rewarding as teaching children is, teaching disabled children is 1000 times as rewarding when you begin to realize that the child LOVES being there.

I had a father tell me that his son thinks his coaches are superheros.  He told me that his son never has to be forced to come to class; he's always ready to go.

That is well worth the difficulties.

9/7/13 3:51 PM
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672
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