Spectrum SKILLZ: Physical Development for Children on the Spectrum | On the Mat Martial Arts
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Our family can't say enough about On The Mat! Master Melody and her awesome team of Ninjas are like a parent's secret weapon. Our son goes to practice Tae Kwon Do, he ends up learning about character, respect, self-control and other priceless virtues! The family environment and friendships fostered at this club have added a beautiful dimension to each of our lives. I have as much fun catching up with friends each week as Robert Paul has on the Dojo. We are grateful to be apart of such an amazing program.

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Awesome instructors and place to train for kids in the area If you live in the Saint Pete's area this is where to bring your kids for not just the best martial arts but life training Skillz!

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The best money that our family has invested in the development of our child! As an early childhood educator, I am very picky about extra curricular activities! On the Mat is the model for positive reinforcement! They treat everyone like family! We are so grateful that we are there and only wish we had found them sooner!

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No better place than OTM for brinhing the best out of your child. The instructors are some of the best and the owner Melody Shuman is the most knowledgeable in child neuroscience. Many martial art facilities around the world look to her and use her Skillz methods for teaching children. AAA++++++

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We signed our 5 year old up for the free trial over the summer to try out something new and keep him active during the summer. He absolutely fell in love with it and asked if he could go every day! The curriculum is perfectly geared toward each particular age group. The instructors are so engaging and committed. The skills and confidence our son has gained just in a few short months are priceless. Our summer activity has quickly become part of our regular year round schedule and I foresee him continuing for years to come. OTM rocks!!

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Spectrum SKILLZ: 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 the 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 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 jASD 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.

 

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.