At Playa Vista Martial Arts we have been working with special needs students for more than 15 years, with an emphasis on kids. We’ve worked extensively with students who have a variety of conditions, including Autism/Aspergers, Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, Fragile X Chromosome Deficiency and Soto’s Syndrome, and we enjoy doing it. Our martial arts training is a fun way to build many useful physical and emotional tools.
Where and how the student is placed in our program depends upon the student’s ability to function in a general class. If it is not possible to place a student in the general class, then we arrange for one-on-one instruction. We have been asked by the families of some of our kids “why can’t we set up a class for kids with the same type of condition?” The reason we do not is simple: with most conditions the student’s ability can be all over the spectrum. Finding a group of similar functioning kids is not easy. For example, in Aspergers a child may have troubles with social integration and volatile emotions that can be a disruptive factor in a group class. Not to mention the noise and contact aspect of the group class might be at a level beyond what the child is comfortable with. Therefore, that student may benefit much more with one-on-one instruction.
When we work one-to-one with the student, each session is tailored to the individual. For example, with a student with Cerebral Palsy it will depend on the mobility of the student. Is the student able to complete certain movements? Do we need to alter a move so the student can now execute a technique that has been specifically designed for him or her? When we have kids or adults in wheelchairs we teach them how the wheelchair can become their foundation. They learn to use the chair in many ways.
Another example of the benefits of a private lessons is more time to work on sensory integration. For example a sensory aspect for some Asperger kids is walking on their toes. If not addressed, this can create problems in the future as the Achilles tendon tends to shrink after years of doing this and can potentially tear or rupture. To help counter this, we give them a Staff or other weapon to hold. Holding creates additional weight and provides another focus which helps allow them to learn how to use their foundation with feet being firmly planted on the ground. Over time this can help break the habit of walking on their toes.
Most students who participate in private instruction for such reasons are ready to join the on of the group classes after a series of one-on-one sessions. The number of sessions depends on the student. After the positive changes through the private lessons, the group class can also lead to many additional improvements. The student tends to work up to the level of the class. They build more confidence, and all of these things lead to improvements in other parts of their lives.
This integration has great benefits for everyone in the group classes. As each person becomes more familiar with some of the difficulties that others may have due to various conditions, it increases their sensitivity and empathy.
Please look at our testimonials page for some of the feedback from families we’ve had the pleasure of working with through the years.