Teaching those with mental disabilities?

Discussion in 'Disabled Martial Artists' started by SWC Sifu Ben, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    I have experience teaching a large variety of people including those with physical disabilities, though I would by no means say they are disabled. I realized I don't have much experience teaching those with metal disabilities when a mother brought in her autistic son to try out a class. He is very compliant but has difficulty copying basic movements, understanding explanations, and regulating his level of force. He can eventually do very short sequences of basic movements but never without major mistakes. The highest level of verbal response I have gotten from him is the word "okay."

    I do have a good grasp on behavioural conditioning and a decent understanding of autism. My usual methodology is that if students do not understand something to condition them to do it properly so as to produce effective responses, and to deal with comprehension later. I'm highly reluctant to do that here because I don't think I could convey the concepts necessary to make things work for him or to be safe for others. All other concerns aside it just feels ethically wrong to only behaviourally condition someone without their understanding. It just feels like a lack of consent on their part.

    I view this as a teaching puzzle and an opportunity for learning, not an issue on his end so any insight into how I can reach him better would be helpful. I don't like saying this but if I can't find a more effective way to reach him I may have to suggest that other activities might be more suitable for him. I just can't justify spending that much time on one student. Unfortunately that doesn't seem like a particularly ethical decision either.

    Does anyone else have any experience teaching autistic people or those with other developmental difficulties?

    Sifu Ben
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014
  2. kuntaoer

    kuntaoer Valued Member

    When I was stateside and teaching, I had a couple of students who were hearing impaired, so what I did is put them in the front row and work with them on the applications as they were being taught.. Sometimes, I would have to spend a little extra time correcting the mistakes, but after a while, the movements came around as good as the students who were not hearing impaired.. I taught them for a couple of years and at the special olympics, these students took 1st and 2nd place in their respective sports.. The only thing I can say is not to get frustrated with the student and work with them accordingly.. Look at it as a teaching experience and help to develop your skills to another level

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