Students with special needs

Kacey

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I ran across this topic on another forum, and since it's a topic that is near and dear to me, I thought I'd share it here, along with my answers, and ask for input from others as well.

1) Who do you include under the umbrella special needs? The reason I ask is because I have several high functioning (Asperger's and the like) autistic students and with the exception of being somewhat distracting (by asking lots of questions) and a little more uncoordinated than others, do fairly well. I suppose my real question is where do you draw the line on a case by case basis, and what are that factors that contribute to your decision for enrollment in the Special Needs class or the general population?

2) How are the classes structured differently than the general program? Are there any specific adaptations or changes to the drills, language, structure, etc. that you've made as you've gained experience from teaching the classes?

3) Did you make any specific curriculum changes for the special needs students?

4) When do you schedule most of your classes for special needs students?

5) How varied are the types of students with special needs that enroll in this program?

Thank you for answering my questions (if you choose to do so). I've read as much as I could on the subject relating to martial arts and sports programs, but I thought it couldn't hurt to ask.
And my response:

1) Who do you include under the umbrella special needs? The reason I ask is because I have several high functioning (Asperger's and the like) autistic students and with the exception of being somewhat distracting (by asking lots of questions) and a little more uncoordinated than others, do fairly well. I suppose my real question is where do you draw the line on a case by case basis, and what are that factors that contribute to your decision for enrollment in the Special Needs class or the general population?
For myself, I don't have a separate class; I teach at YMCA 2 days/week, and that is the class. The two students I have who have special needs are both adults, both developmentally delayed, and one has cerebral palsy as well - and they come to the same class as my other students. It has been very beneficial all around, as my other students have all been wonderful in helping with these two, and have greatly improved their own understanding by helping explain and demonstrate for them. Whenever possible, I would suggest (both as an instructor an as a special education teacher) keeping all students in the same class - it can have wonderful benefits for all, and after all, all students, regardless of ability/needs, will have to function in an integrated world, and participation in TKD or other group activities can have wonderful benefits for social skills along with the physical skills - and it teaches your other students to accept others as they are, and as members of society - the opposite of the mysterious room in the back corner of the school where "those" students used to go in decades past.

As far as autistic students go, in particular, they thrive on structure and consistency, and can benefit greatly from being in inclusive settings where the expectations are consistent. If these students are kids, you might consider getting their parents' permission to talk to their schools and educational service providers (special ed teachers, psychologist, physical therapists, etc.) about ways to integrate their academic and social goals, and the methods found to be effective in the school environment into your class, to help them both to do better in your class and to generalize the skills across settings - that being a significant problem for people with autism, especially high-functioning people with autism such as Asperger's. You can also look here (http://www.aspennj.org/) and here(http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer) for information about autism.
2) How are the classes structured differently than the general program? Are there any specific adaptations or changes to the drills, language, structure, etc. that you've made as you've gained experience from teaching the classes?
For the 2 students I mentioned, the class is not structured any differently - but they perform at their own speed. I do tend to use somewhat simplified language with them - but within the limits of their physical disabilities, they are expected to perform like all other students.
3) Did you make any specific curriculum changes for the special needs students?
They both test in smaller pieces, for one stripe at a time (so, a half rank), so that they can see their progress and still progress at a slower pace - but the requirements are the same, except for breaking (the student with CP is not able to break due to the CP), and their demonstration of patterns and techniques is judged based on their ability compared to their performance - but that's the way it is for all students; it's just a little more apparent in their cases that the standards are individualized.
4) When do you schedule most of your classes for special needs students?
Not really applicable to me.
5) How varied are the types of students with special needs that enroll in this program?
Currently, as I said, I have 2 students with special needs - both adults with developmental delays (IQs in the mid-60s, about), one with cerebral palsy and one with Down's Syndrome. I have, in the past, had a student who was deaf and who used a portable oxygen tank, and I also have several students currently who are in special education programs for students with emotional disabilities.
 

KempoGuy06

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Im not an instructor but I have worked with special needs people before. Ive always found that it is best not to seperate them (of course physical limitations may force you to do this). They generally want to be included and thrive on working hard to accomplish the same thing to the best of their ability.

Here is a story from my experiences with special needs people:

I was working at a camp for a week through a church program with a friend. I didnt want to do it because I was a little wary about working with special needs people only because I didnt know how to act, everyone probably knows what I mean. Well I went to the camp and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I learned a lot about people with special needs and about myself. Towards the end of the camp I was helping with an art session, I was walking around the group looking at their works and talking to them. I came up on a young man whom I will call Billy, he was diagnosed with a mild form of mental retardation (i hate using that word) and MS. He wasnt completely confined to a wheel chair yet but he used one because it was easier for him to get around. Anyway he had stopped paint and was looking at his picture with a look of dispair, so I walked up and asked what was wrong. He looked up at me and said, "I cant decided where to add the blue in on my painting, I would ask you for advises but your mind doesnt work the same as mine so you wont know what you are looking at." I just started laughing and said, "well if you need my help just ask" and walked away. I was astonded by the fact that he possed the insight to know that he and I were different and it was amazing to me that he saw it as we had a different way of thinking.

I told that story only to point out that people with disabilities do not need to be seperated from everyone else. I found that for the most part they would pick up on something but it would be at a slower pace and if they needed help they would ask for it.

Also I found out a couple months ago that MS took Billys life. He was specially person in more ways than one

B

Sort of covers the topic. Its a good topic though and I cant wait to hear other responses
 

tsd

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Before the dojang had a special needs program, I trained with a young man who had physical disabilities due to epileptic seizures. He was in his early 20's and loved training. As we all progressed in rank, my training partner was less and less able to be successful due to his disabilities. It was hard on him......mentally he was frustrated and the benefits to his spirit and health were at risk.

Our SBN decided to start a special needs class to address this situation. That is, create a class where special needs students were able to be successful. The make up of the class often changes (autistic, cp, cognition issues) thus what is done may change. Some of these students will be able to achieve black belt, though in our association special needs black belt is separate from typical rank requirements. Some will not, and that does not seem to be an issue. All of the students and teachers in special needs program benefit greatly from martial arts training.
 
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