Fears of Parents and/or Instructors with Special Needs Students
by, 10-16-2010 at 09:27 (6794 Views)
To begin let me reiterate a statement I made in an earlier blog, special needs persons are just like you and me, they are all individuals.
So if you are a parent you can relate when I say you worried about your child when they first went to school, tried out for a sport, got hurt, got sick, etc.
With normal kids it's a painful but fairly quick progression to fear of their first driving a car, going away to college, first day on the job, etc.
With special needs persons, especially those who are mentally challenged, the timeline can get drug out longer. Many 7 or 8 years old kids are traffic smart. It may take a special needs person well into their teens or longer to recognize such dangers, some never will get it.
Recognizing danger and being placed in a position where you can get hurt is actually part of the process of learning to survive as an adult. Not all dangers are lethal. Many dangers can be controlled safely. In some activities, it is the danger that makes the activity fun, especially for adrenalin junkies, think sky diving or any extreme sport.
In Martial Arts there is an inherent chance that you will get hurt or hurt another person, it goes with the territory. A parent or instructor of a special needs student will probably have many second thoughts about the special needs person doing many techniques, as both tori or uke. You don't want the student to get hurt and you don't want the student to hurt another person.
But wait, remember, there like everyone else, they're all individuals. Parents and teachers of normal students have, or should have, the same concern. But with special needs students it is not unusual for this concern to be amplified.
In my opinion, and that is all I have, the best thing to do is to allow the student to progress at their own pace and in the right time experience the risk inherent in the art. Let them get thrown, the first time probably by the teacher. Let them throw, first the teacher again. Le them go at it and learn as other students do.
I predict that the parent or teacher will more often than not be surprised at how well the student does. This will be because of a couple of factors.
First the student is more capable of performing correctly than we will give them credit for. There is a prejudice to think they will do worse than better than expected.
Second, the student will begin to progress at a faster rate than before because they sense even more confidence from the teacher or parent as they are allowed to do more and more varied skills. This will help their confidence.
Third, the class will become more confident, in general, in the skills of the special needs student, as they see success. this can help change a martial arts class into more of a martial arts club where students belong to a group as opposed to jsut attending the same training.
Fourth, when something happens, a bad fall, a scrape, etc, people will survive, get up and move on. The worst did not happen. This can be a revelatory moment for the teacher, parent and class as everyone held their collective breath waiting for the worse that did not happen. OK time to move on, just like with others.
Of course it is vital that instructor, parent and student remain on the same page as the instruction progresses. But again, this is the same with all students.
Martial Arts training is a lifetime activity, as such it is especially useful for individuals who may progress at a slower than normal rate. It is by its nature incremental in its steps, continues to build on past learning and constantly raises the bar of what is expected. All of these makes MA an excellent choice for persons who are challenged.