Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - An aikido-based intervention supporting the therapy of a child with autism spectrum disorders – a case study

Background. Numerous scientific studies conducted in recent years have confirmed the positive effects of the participation of children and youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in therapeutic intervention programs based on traditional Chinese martial arts, karate and taekwondo.
Aim. The aim of this study was to present the case of a boy with ASD and to evaluate changes in the severity of autism symptoms that were observed during the five 10-day aikido camps organized between 2013-2017.
Methods. The case study method was used to present the results of observation of the boy with ASD during each aikido camp and immediately after it. The author’s own observation sheet was used to evaluate the changes in the boy’s behavior.
Results. The subject took part in an aikido camp for the first time at the age of 12. He was then a child with developmental deficits in social relations, communication, and physical abilities. The exercise program based on the aikido curriculum was implemented during five camp in the form of 90-minute group classes. The gradual reduction in the severity of autism symptoms was evident both in social interactions and communication with peers. A growing involvement in physical exercise was also observed, as was better coordination and ability to perform the sequence of movements, as well as a reduction in fear of performing new motor tasks.
Conclusions. The aikido-based program, which was used as an additional therapeutic intervention for one boy with ASD, helped to reduce the severity of his ASD symptoms in the areas of social relations, physical abilities and communication behaviors.