Physical Development for Children on the Spectrum | Gentle East Martial Arts
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ACCESS OUR VIRTUAL SCHEDULE
& BOOK YOUR FREE VIRTUAL SESSION🗓️

Our Physical doors might be shut - but our DIGITAL DOORS are OPEN! Secure your spot & get started today with our FREE EXCLUSIVE online offer!

By opting into the web form above you are providing consent for Gentle East Martial Arts to send you periodic text messages. Standard rates may apply. You can reply HELP at anytime or learn more. You may opt-out anytime by replying STOP.
Erin Elam reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I can’t explain just how amazing this place is! My daughter was born at just 23 weeks, 1lb. She just turned 3, and is doing well but had a long bumpy road. With said, she has some visual impairments, mild cerebral palsy, and severe anxiety issues. We are four classes in now, and although my daughter cries each time we get to the school, the instructors (every single one) ALWAYS treat her like their own and take their time with her. She comes out of class so happy and oh so proud of herself! They do not treat her differently because of her impairments, they are all patient and kind, and above all understanding. We are BEYOND pleased with GEMA, and the staff to include the wonderful families we have met. Thank you GEMA for creating a better world for my daughter!

Marc Grenier reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

An awesome martial arts school that truly cares.

Hillary Hogan reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I have had a blast. I look forward to continuing to learn each form.

Sharon Takai reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

We love the instructors and family atmosphere! Thank you!

Kathryn Carson reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I've tried a bunch of martial arts over the years, but it wasn't until I got to Gentle East that I realized that the art itself doesn't matter so much--it's the attitude of its practitioners. These people aren't learning and teaching how to kill, but how to live. How to live despite trauma and illness, and to keep practicing their art even if it's just in their hearts. The tenets are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit, and they mean every word. They teach the kids that other dojangs won't. Autistic, physically challenged, special needs, you name it. They're fully engaged with the messy business of life. A whole lot of families are glad that Master Barbara Robinson followed her vision. Ours is one.

Melody D. Choate reviewed Gentle East Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Love, love, love this place! The staff is incredibly kind and supportive, and the family atmosphere is palpable the moment you walk in the door! I am so impressed with the work being done with autism spectrum kids, as well as other kids with physical challenges. No one is made to feel like they don't belong here! I even joined the mommy class and my toddlers are allowed to run around us while we work out. I've lost a few pounds, and gained some amazing (non-judgemental) mom-friends! An oasis of kindness and support in the middle of what is often a 'keep up with the Jones's " area of town.

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Physical Development for Children on the Spectrum

As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors.” And while this is at the core of ASD, what tends to get overlooked are the significant difficulties that some with ASD face in relation to movement and motor planning.


In the early years, children with ASD are typically behind in their gross motor development by about 6 months in comparison to their non-ASD peers. As children get older, physical challenges are more apparent when it comes to fitness and sports. They typically have poor muscular strength, coordination, balance, and endurance. Because of this, a lot of parents are hesitant to enroll their child in a physical program. And, although it can be challenging for the child at first, the benefits far outweigh the problems that come along with a sedentary, isolated lifestyle.

The key to the success of improved motor skills is to find a program that is specifically designed for children with ASD, with this goal in mind. Since most programs only focus on the social difficulties associated with ASD, it is very hard to find resources that address the physical problems as well. And while there are programs and sports that work to include these children, it can be overwhelming to them because they often have sensory issues and problems associated with processing complex rules.

In order to provide another resource for children with ASD, the Spectrum SKILLZ program was developed to give them a specially designed class to focus on better attention span, preliminary skills, and social skills. The added physical benefit comes from using elements of traditional Martial Arts curriculums to build skills that are appropriate for these children.

In addition, the instructors are also trained to understand the needs of children with ASD so that they can better communicate with and reach them. The instructors also break down the rules in an easy to follow format and physically demonstrate this to the class. This helps the students process the rules and see exactly what is expected.

For example, one of the many drills in this program is called “Laser Jumps.” In this drill, the instructor uses a foam noodle to move across the ground at varying speeds. The students are asked to jump over the noodle using both feet at one time, to bring their knees up, and to keep jumping even when they get tired. This drill helps to build their stamina and strength in their legs.

As you can see the Spectrum SKILLZ program is an innovative method for working with children with ASD. Not only does it address the typical problems associated with ASD such as lack of social, communication, and processing skills, but it also addresses the lack of fundamental motor skills. This means that children will learn and grow at a pace that is fun and meets their needs while being challenging enough to help foster development.

To learn more about our innovative program?  Click here to book your child’s free 1-on-1 session with one of our instructors