Here’s what is not in dispute among treatment experts: the importance of more personalized and more holistic plans. And so, relying on a growing body of research and a wealth of anecdotal evidence, they’re reconsidering the long-held belief that sports can do more harm than good. “Twenty years ago I wasn’t thinking about exercise at all,” says Ann Neumeyer, a pediatric neurologist and medical director of the Lurie Center for Autism at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. “Occasionally parents would ask [if kids with ASD could play sports] and I’d say, ‘O.K., but make sure you’re the coach.’ But now there’s an awareness that [autistic] children can be very successful and more accepted [in sports]. I’m pretty much recommending it to everyone.”
When Jo was officially diagnosed, it opened up a new world for her. Her mindset changed. She suddenly learned that her differences were not necessarily bad things, and that she wasn’t the only one dealing with the types of things she was going through.
“It was like a flash of light to say, ‘Nothing’s actually wrong with you. You just are a little different,’” Jo says.
“That’s what I always let these kids know: if I can do it, you can definitely do it and probably do it better. And I’m so proud of that, because I know what kind of courage it takes. That’s the start, and that’s awesome.”
While all of these benefits may seem obvious, how do they in particular relate to children with autism? Parents of children with autism will know that generally autistic people have slower reaction times, have irregular sleeping patterns and can suffer from stress/anxiety especially in social situations.
Boxing training provides a very unique platform for children with autism to battle all of these symptoms while also getting some exercise. If nothing else the gym would provide a sensory seeking dream for the children and they would thouroughly enjoy punching a bag, running around and letting off some steam.
“Win or lose, I just want to have this big platform and show that it’s OK to be autistic. It’s not something to be feared. It’s not a life sentence.”
Maybe it’s the wide open space, or the fact Richie lets them adjust the volume of the music to what suits them – but whatever it is he’s really enjoying it. We’ve seen a big improvement in his social skills in that he’s now prepared to mix with other people and not just want to be on his own or just with us.
He’s mildly autistic and diagnosed with an extreme case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Boxing has improved his focus.
“Boxing allows you to utilize that energy, stay focused, if you’re not focused and you look to your left or right, you’re going to get hit in the face,” George, Sr. said. “It’s going to hurt pretty bad.”
“It helps him with his attention span tremendously. His grades have improved. He went from being a D-F student to an A-B student.”
But, unwilling to let the bullies get the better of him, Daniel – whose nickname is Pigeon – has taken up boxing lessons.
He said: “Somebody told me that boxing was good and that it would build my confidence back up.
“I felt nervous at first but once I got started I loved it, and at the end I felt like a champion.
“I’m coming back stronger then ever I’m not going to be a pushover anymore and I wont be an easy target.
“The boxing lessons have given me a big lift. The message I want send out is #BeKind.”
“Ben gets very anxious before a fight, but now he’s able to just put the blinkers on and get it done. That’s how far he has come. As Ben says, it’s okay to have autism, yet he feels he needs to do this so he’s not just seen as autistic.
“Like all kids, he just wants to fit in, and boxing has helped him do that.”
In the past year Fighting for Autism has accrued some of inspiring youngsters from around the world to help raise awareness together with us and at their respective clubs and when they compete.
the amazing part is that the Junior Ambassadors are made up of future champions who are both on and off the autistic Spectrum todays blog brings you an insight into 5 of these individuals who are not only boxers, but are also on the autistic spectrum.