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Help Autistic children with Tai Chi and Kung Fu

While we are celebrating April as National Autism Awareness Month, we are overwhelmed by the latest study on the detrimental disease on patients, their families and society. According to the National Health Statistics Reports issued on March 20, 2013, the senior research scientist Dr. Stephen J Blumberg and other scientists at the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found out the prevalence of parent-reported Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) among children aged 6–17 was 2.00% in 2011–2012, a significant increase from 2007’s 1.16%. The Reports further show that the magnitude of the increase was greatest for boys and for adolescents aged 14–17. In the same month, the Journal of Pediatrics released a new study by Dr. Frank DeStefano and colleagues from the CDC. They analyzed data from 256 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD and 752 children without ASD (born from 1994-1999) and found that the risk of autism is not Working with kids with ASD Little Dao Dragon increased by “too many vaccines too soon”. The study result eases the anxiety of millions of parents with newborn babies over whether to have their kids vaccinated. However, the question of what causes ASD is still unanswered. Even though answers are few, hopes are great. As I previously published, Dr. Louisa Silva’s Qigong massage is medically proven to help Autistic children aged 6 and under. Sifu Paul Grefte of Holland shared his personal story how Tai Chi helps him to overcome challenges with AD. I am also now happy to report that Sifu Ford Edwards of Little Dao Dragon of Hemet, California has been teaching autistic children Kung Fu and Tai Chi (Taiji) to the point where they were well enough to drop out of medical treatments. In 2004, Sifu Edwards got a referral to teach Chinese martial arts to ten autistic kids aged 5 to 9. Before he started working with this group of kids, he sought advice from his Sifu Shaolin Grandmaster and Dr. Kam Yuen, who was the consultant and stunt coordinator for the original television series ‘Kung Fu’, starring David Carradine. Kam gave Ford some instructions on changing the children’s energy field using Chinese Energetics. Ford began teaching the kids Shaolin Kung Fu stances and footwork to work the inner Yin and outer Yang pressure points in their feet, followed up by learning Tan Tui’s, which allowed them to work both sides of their bodies. According to Sifu Edwards, working both sides of the body can connect the two hemispheres in the brain. The kids practiced gentle Tai Chi movements to improve their left-right coordination and body control. Other curriculum included Qigong (Chi Kung) breathing, staff form “fire & water”, short stick drills, upper body striking drills in the mirror using both left & right hands, arms, elbows, kicks from both legs, shoulder rolls and back falls into foam pads with their eyes closed. He explained that the back falls drill helped to break fear and increase trust in their instincts. He also had them run, tumble, jump, throw and catch balls. He worked with them 3 times per week for 1-hour classes over 15 months. Then they went to Sifu and Dr. Nadine Shozuya’s school after Sifu Edwards relocated his school to another city. He stated that Sifu Nadine was very caring. She donated her time and came to study how Sifu Edwards taught the kids. She continued to teach most of them for 2 to 5 years after Edwards moved. It is very exciting to learn that one of the former students will be getting his 3rd Duan Black Belt. Sifu Ford recalled that the biggest recoveries of kids took place in the first few months to the point where the kids behaved as any other kids of their age. He did notice when some kids missed a week or two they regressed back to their shell but quickly recovered after a few minutes in class with the other kids. Barbara Soraniono, whose pediatric therapist referred her son to the class, was quoted saying “I’m so happy this class is offered. Already, we see improvement in his motor skills and greater a body and self-confidence.” Sifu Edwards admitted that before working with those kids, he had little knowledge of autism. Since then, he has learned a great deal; looking back, Sifu Edwards thought that many of the students he taught in the 90’s classes might have Autistic Spectrum Disorder but were never diagnosed. Today, © 2006-2015 AXS Digital Group LLC d/b/a Examiner.com SUGGESTED LINKS  Let’s help ever increasing children autistic problems with Qigong  Tai Chi takes away the edge  Qigong Massage for Your Child with Autism  A new hope for Parkinson’s Disease patients: Tai Chi  A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi there are kids in his class who are diagnosed with autism and some of them exhibit such behaviors but are not diagnosed. Even though he recognizes who they are now, he just teaches them Kung Fu and Tai Chi and they get better. His philosophy requires no labels; each child is unique. It takes tremendous of patience to work with kids with ASD, but for Sifu Edwards, seeing kids progress gives him great satisfaction.

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Bill Douglas of the World Tai Chi & Qigong Day site shared this in his most recent email newsletter.

Autism & Tai Chi, Kung Fu & Qigong

Helping children with special needs can be a challenge. And while a number of state and local agencies exist to help parents with special needs children, several avenues of help are often overlooked or ignored: Kung Fu, Tai Chi Chuan, and Qi Gong. In 2004, I began training a group of ten children; doctors thought my approach was voodoo. But eventually all of the autistic children dropped out of the medical treatment programs in which they were enrolled and stopped taking the drugs that were part of the medical treatment. Working with the kids, I began by teaching beginning Shaolin Kung Fu stances and footwork (to work the inner yin and outer yang pressure points in their feet). The students then began learning Tan Tui’s, which allowed them to work both sides of their bodies. Working both sides of the body made changes in the brain, connecting the two hemispheres. Most Kung Fu systems use the same basic training, stances and forms, and most of these forms teach right / left and circular movements. The kids practiced gentle tai chi movements, again to improve their left-right coordination and body control. I also had them run, tumble, jump, throw, and catch balls as well as practice coordinated kicks. When I started working with this group of kids I spoke to my Sifu Grand Master Kam Yuen seeking his advice. He gave me some instructions on changing the children’s energy field using Chinese Energetics. And he said don’t label or lump them together as Autistic; each child is unique. Barbara Soraniono, whose pediatric therapist referred her and her son Max to the class was ecstatic: “I’m so happy this class is offered. Already we see improvement in his motor skills and greater a body and self-confidence.”

Sifu Ford Edwards runs Little Tao Dragon (www.littletaodragon.com); you may contact him at fordvedwards@verizon.net

Special thanks to Dr. Sifu Nadine Shozuya who also taught these classes, and to Larry Barkley for helping with the article.