Did you ever expect to read anything along the lines of, “An organization is providing fight therapy for kids with autism?” No? Me neither.
And to be honest, I never thought I’d see myself type it. But: an organization is providing fight therapy for kids with autism.
The international organization is called Fighting for Autism, and it strives to bring autism awareness into the fighting industry — an excellent place to do so, since mixed martial arts is growing faster than most other sports. Along with raising awareness, athletes, coaches, and others in the field are mentoring kids with ASD, striving to end bullying, and, most interestingly of all, offering a therapeutic kickboxing class for kids on the spectrum.
Kickboxing may not sound like a typical therapy technique (unless you’ve had a really bad day at work). However, according to Dr. Avi Domnitz-Gebet, a pediatric neurologist, it can be beneficial — not just for those with autism, but also for those with anxiety and ADHD, too. It builds self-control, self-esteem, and responsibility.
One teacher for the program, Joe Worden, can attest to its helpfulness. Working with the children, aged seven to twelve, presented some initial challenges due to sensory overload and motor difficulties. But with a little practice and some help from parents, the students got the hang of it and blossomed.
“[T]here are some kids who we’re told never spoke to strangers who are now having fun, smiling, and even talking,” Worden said. “At the end of a second class, one student walked past me with his dad and he said, ‘Fun!’ The father told me, ‘You have no idea what a big deal that was, for him to talk to you.'”
Fighting for Autism: 1; Obstacles of Autism: 0.
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.