Judo can be useful for children with autism spectrum disorders according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Central Florida. According to the researchers, this martial activity, in addition to reducing the level of physical inactivity, which in itself can be linked to other diseases such as diabetes and obesity, can also have positive effects with regard to social interaction in autistic children, as the researchers noted during their analysis.
During the pilot study, in fact, the researchers noticed that children who practiced this physical activity were then anxious to continue the lessons when they finished and were generally very interested. As a consequence, the researchers themselves found a moderate to vigorous increase in physical activity among the study participants. The results of the study were then published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Parents interviewed about it also stated that their children with autism spectrum disorders seemed to be more comfortable with social interaction and physical contact while practicing judo.
These are characteristics, those related to social interaction, for which children diagnosed with autism usually have a certain difficulty.
“While for karate, a form of martial arts, the benefits to the autistic population related to social interaction have been documented, we hypothesized that the emphasis on awareness and self-defense promoted by judo could provide additional benefits to young people with ASD,” explains Jeanette Garcia, researcher at the College of Health Professions and Sciences who carried out the research. “In fact, our study shows that judo not only promotes social skills, but is well accepted by this population and is an excellent program to reduce sedentary behavior and increase confidence.”