Making a Difference with Autistic Students

 
At the age of 3, our son Benicio “Beni” Perez was diagnosed with a form of autism. For Beni it meant delay in speech, delay in motor skills, and lack of eye contact.

Confidence for Kids and Parents

At the age of 3, our son Benicio “Beni” Perez was diagnosed with a form of autism. For Beni it meant delay in speech, delay in motor skills, and lack of eye contact.

Beni had plenty of assistance: speech therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy and social skills classes, but none of these therapies actually helped us, as parents, feel that our child was “normal.” We were eager to feel normal, to put Beni in a regular class with children his own age and hope he would model after them.

That’s when we found Kang’s ATA in Elk Grove, Calif. We knew nothing about Taekwondo, but we liked what we saw: patient teachers who modeled what they taught, respect shown to all students regardless of age, and a safe environment. Kang’s ATA is not just a martial arts business. It’s a family who cares about the success of its students. With a new optimism, we enrolled Beni.

Beni is now 7 years old and a Brown Belt. His therapies are minimal, and he continues to surprise us with the self-confidence, self-discipline and respectful manners that he has learned through Taekwondo. He models not just after the children as once hoped, but after teachers Chief Master Se Hyung Kang and Jay Kang. Beni strives to meet their standards of hard work, vitality, and perseverance. “Goals we set, goals we get.”

We would like to offer a heart-filled thank you to the Kang family and American Taekwondo Association for such a dynamic program. You help to restore confidence not only in your students, but in their parents as well.

Fermin and Nadia Perez
Elk Grove, Calif.

Proud of His Belt and Achievements

My son Lliam Reyes has autism. We signed him up at Lee’s ATA in Tempe, Ariz., in October 2011. He is now a Green Belt. I wanted to let you know how much the instructors at Lee’s ATA Martial Arts in Tempe, Ariz., are wonderful with him. And his classes are helping him with coordination and social skills. He has become proud of his belts and his achievements. Thank you ATA for becoming a partner with Autism Speaks. I’ve been telling everyone I know with children with autism (or with ADHD, like my daughter, Poe, who is also a Green Belt) to get their children signed up with ATA. I’ve seen firsthand what these classes can do!

Rey and Nadia Reyes
Tempe, Ariz.
From ATA World Volume 19, Number 3 Fall 2012

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