Martial Arts Benefits People on the Autism Spectrum

Martial Arts Therapy for Autism and related Spectrum Disorders

We are always looking into alternative forms of therapy to help manage issues relating to autism.  Some common issues someone with autism may exhibit include repetitive movements, sounds or activities. Studies are showing traditional martial arts training as a great alternative therapy for individuals on the autism spectrum since the skills learned require repetitive movements and focused discipline, plus it is a therapeutic exercise.

A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin Physical Therapy Department showed trend with individuals and families turning to martial arts therapists, who have experience working with those who have neurodevelopmental and sensory challenges.

Not only are there benefits of improved eye contact, coordination and motor skills, but the study also indicated marked improvement in communication and self esteem. Children with autism essentially came out of their shells and grew more socially assertive and cooperative.

Ways Martial arts therapy can help an individual with autism include:

  • One-on-one training may keep their attention for longer periods of time
  • Repetitive movements inherent in martial arts may reduce dependence on certain unwanted behaviors
  • Learning and practicing new body positions may increase motor learning
  • The physicality of the sport itself can improve strength, conditioning, and agility
  • Social interaction during classes may improve communication and confidence
  • Physical activity can reduce disruptive behavior

The use of martial arts as a therapy for autism will provide encouragement, sets attainable goals through the levels of progress, provides structure, and the intensity of martial arts translate into other areas of the individual’s life.

As with any new therapy approach, please to talk to your doctor before starting any martial arts therapy program.

For more information about alternative therapies for autism, please visit.