• Keri Horon

You Know, Judo


Judo Class Helps Kids with Autism




My son with autism spent many years participating in a therapeutic horseback riding program. When the program closed (not due to COVID-19) we were left wondering what he could do to get some form of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and sensory processing therapy. I considered karate lessons but could not find classes geared toward kids with special needs. Martial arts, in my opinion, would require a unique set of skills on the part of the instructor in order to make it meaningful for the kids with special needs.


I dismissed the idea until recently when a friend passed along an article about judo. A study out of the University of Central Florida found that judo is a viable option for helping children with autism be more active and more social. By giving the kids a structured setting under the guidance of an instructor, they connected in physical ways and interacted with others.


The research team hypothesized that the emphasis on mindfulness and gentle self defense would benefit youth with ASD. The team also found that the activity reduced stress, reduced sedentary behavior, and increased confidence. Overall, judo taught by an ASD-aware instructor has some major pros for kids like my son.


So it got me thinking about finding some type of class he could join. I know he seeks sensory input, and this might be really good for him. Like other activities in which he's participated, I've thought about (okay, worried about) what would happen if I wasn't there to take him to his classes or programs. Would anyone know where to go? The date, time, location? What does he wear? What does he bring? How much do the lessons cost and how are they paid for? Many things to know...


To assume someone would just figure it out in my absence would be silly. The information in my calendar isn't enough to fill someone in...so what's the answer? What helps solve this potential problem?


Well, once we find an appropriate martial arts class in our neighborhood, and if it all goes well and becomes part of his week, I will be adding that information to his Vest. Easy to upload, easy to access, easy to share. That way, I know that others would know how to keep things going for him. Domo arigatou!


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