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He has certainly come a long way!

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  After a year and a half of hard work, Dana has earned his brown belt in Kenpo Karate and is now in the Advanced Little Dragons class at Panther Kenpo Karate, excellently taught by Steve Hatfield. He has learned to overcome some of his Aspie sensitivities and fears, and his perfectionism is actually a help. He learns the moves fairly quickly and practices regularly. He is, unfortunately, not as industrious about his required “To Do” list which says he must complete lessons, do required chores, show black belt respect for family and teacher, etc., daily. But the list is still a good incentive since it has to be checked daily and turned in weekly.

The Brown Belt is a major milestone and, after earning the stripes for the brown belt, is followed by the Black Belt with white stripe, the first of three on his way to a Black Belt. Now he is allowed to wear the black ghi, which we purchased for him in recognition of his hard work. We also got him the emblem patch for the uniform. He wears them proudly.

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Dana demonstrated confidence and ability and earned his Kenpo Karate blue belt. His instructor also chose him as the “Little Dragon of the Month”. Looking good, Dana! One of the parents also complimented me on his politeness and good behavior. I was very proud. He has come a long way.

See my previous posts about why karate is so good for kids, especially those on the spectrum.

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Hurray for Dana! He practiced hard all week and passed his test for purple belt in Kenpo Karate! He is learning that hard work pays off. The moves are getting longer and harder to remember, but he is giving it his “Black Belt effort” and is learning them.

Congratulations to Dana for doing your best and succeeding!

I am proud of him. But more importantly, he is proud of himself.

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The kids, including Dana, make mistakes in this video, but they are just starting to learn the moves required for getting their orange belt. The instructor is wonderful in working with them. He is tolerant and forgiving, but also sets some standards they must meet or leave the mat. Dana’s ability to function properly in the class has greatly improved, and he is proud of himself. He now goes twice a week, but wishes he could go every day!

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                       After too much of the first picture, even the melting snow seems happy to see temps in the 50s at last!

Cabin fever had Dana running back and forth, bouncing on the sofas and finally giving himself a haircut while hiding in my walk-in closet. It has a mirror, but I don’t think he used it. His hair was cut down to the scalp in some places and sticking up in clumps in others! He said his hair was “bugging” him and he doesn’t like the sound of the clippers (due to his Aspie sensitivities), so he used the scissors and did it himself. After cleaning the pile of hair from the corner, off the floor, and the carpet in my bedroom. I marched him upstairs to get a buzz cut. There are still some bare spots, but it looks a lot more even. He didn’t even complain because he was still trying to figure out just how much trouble he was in and when I was going to let him know. I guess he figured that if I was taking the trouble to cut his hair, I must be going to let him live.

Well, that was yesterday. Today was good. The sun was shining, he did his math and spelling with very little grumbling and practiced his karate moves. Then it was off to karate class and testing for his yellow belt. Later, at bedtime, we read more from “Castle Diary” as part of our study of the Middle Ages.

Karate is so great for Aspies! It has helped him learn to tolerate sudden loud noise when the class yells, “Yes, Sir!” without running away and crouching against the wall in a fetal position. It has taught him to perform the moves in front of the whole class without freezing in place. It even has taught him to say, “Yes, ma’am” to me once in a while, to treat everyone with “black belt respect,” to show self discipline by cleaning his room and doing other chores without being told (sometimes, anyway), and doing his “black belt best.”

So he did his best and got his yellow belt today. Congratulations, Dana! You’ve come a long way already.

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Dana has started taking Kenpo Karate lessons once a week. The instructor and his school were recommended by several people in our community, including his counselor. But why Karate?

Many authorities on parenting and teaching children on the autism spectrum highly recommend martial arts as beneficial in many ways. The classes help fill the needs of these children in three areas: meeting the preferred style and method of instruction; teaching social skills and character development; and providing beneficial exercise that promotes improved coordination.

 The structured regimen and clear moves learned by imitation of visual repetition, along with clear class behavior expectations are ideal for them. Tangible and visual recognition of achievement is provided through the levels of colored belts. Self control/self discipline is emphasized and expected.

According to William Stillman, in “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children With Asperger’s Syndrome,” martial arts instruction “promotes making slow, deliberate, and methodical brain-body connections in order to be conscious of how all parts of one’s body move and relate to one another.”

Also, according to one source, there is evidence that a workout that builds up a sweat can help their ability to stay organized and focused for the rest of the day. This can also be attained (as can many of the benefits listed above) through other non competitive activities, including swimming, which is a favorite with my boy. Swimming or playing in the water also provides sensations of buoyancy, overall pressure and solitude.

Dana is already beginning to improve his ability to focus attention, show respect, maintain self control, and have self confidence. It is also helping him develop better balance, muscular control and how to focus his energy. Most importantly, he likes it and is very proud of himself. After one difficult day of homeschooling, I reminded him how extremely well he had done on the day of his karate lesson. He said, “Well, if I had karate every day, I would have great days every day.”

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