Gentle East Martial Arts of Midlothian, Virginia is proud to announce that we have added Spectrum Skillz Therapeutic Martial Arts to our class offerings! This program was designed to target children ages 7 and up who are on the autism spectrum. The program introduces specialized skill-based training for children who have limited physical, intellectual, social, and emotional abilities. With that said, more emphasis is placed on building fundamental skills training with a strategic balance of Martial Arts.
By understanding the needs of these children, we have selected 8 skills that make up the Spectrum SKILLZ Program. The fifth skill we cover is Communication, which tends to be one of the big things that kids on the autism spectrum struggle with.
Being able to communicate how they feel can be very difficult for them. They may know how to say words and talk, but that’s not really communicating. Being able to help them communicate to solve problems without getting too frustrated or bursting out in anger or sadness is going to be a key to helping them be productive individuals.
We have broken the Communication skill into four main areas of focus:
- Eye Contact – Being able to keep their eyes on the person that’s talking and being able to look at them and address them while showing that eye contact is important because when you can look at somebody in the eyes it shows that person that you’re paying attention, and you care about what they’re saying. So with the kids on the spectrum, the goal is going to be to have them keep that eye contact on the instructor as they’re going through different communication drills.
- Body Language – Being able to use correct body language to be able to show when you’re happy, sad, upset, or being able to show whether you’re tired or more energetic is important because very often, when they don’t know how to have good body positioning or good posture, the things that they say can be miscommunicated or misinterpreted. Learning to have that good body position will help with this.
- Communication With a Partner – This is actually going to be challenging their social skills and putting them to the test. We will work with the kids to communicate different challenges, struggles, or even different drills or basic stuff they’re going to have to do with their teammates. This is really going to challenge their social stage of development because it forces them to step out of their comfort zone and actually talk with the people that they’re working with.. Of course, we will be there to guide them and support them throughout the process.
- Communication With Our Voice – Using voice fluctuation to say different things in different ways, such as when you’re happy when you’re upset is important. Communication is not only the words we use but the way we use them. When you can utilize your voice to convey all of these different aspects, it becomes a lot easier for you as a person to show your different emotions. For the kids on the spectrum, this is going to be a huge one because sometimes their voice will not match what they’re feeling. They can be really loud, yet they could be really sad, or they might be super excited and happy, but speak quietly. Helping them understand how to communicate effectively with their voice and using it to actually capture the emotion they’re experiencing is going to be a huge benefit for kids on the spectrum.