Hey team, have you ever hesitated to put down a medical condition on a form when participating in an activity?
This would have to be one of the most overlooked questions on any form whether it's for sport or other activity, and it makes the work for the people running the activity really hard if they have to find out this information themselves.
Medical conditions can range from diabetes, pregnancy, mental health challenges such as anxiety or ASD.
What we'll do in this article is look specifically at our kids and how important it is to share information with the coaching staff, specifically with those that are on the 'spectrum'.
So many parents tell us that their pediatrician had recommended BJJ to them as a sport to help their child that may have sensory challenges, are ASD or have a neurological challenges.
This is great, however so few parents actually indicate these challenges that their child has and it can impact negatively on coaching children collectively.
Whilst it's great to get our kids out into society to learn different skills, meet new people and get some life experience, it is very important to inform the administration or coaching staff of the challenges that your child may have.
The most common medical condition that doesn't get identified on sporting forms is ASD. This maybe out of embarrassment or denial, but it's super important that this is noted.
Autism affects approximately 1 in 160 people, and is more common in males than females. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder which usually appears very early, before the age of 3 years.
Symptoms of autism include problems in social communication, both verbal and non-verbal, difficulties understanding of what other people are feeling or thinking, and having restricted ranges of interest or difficulty tolerating change. Some level of intellectual disability frequently accompanies autism.
Many individuals with autism also have problems with being either more or less sensitive to sensory stimuli such as sounds, light, and textures; difficulties with sleep; and high levels of anxiety or difficulty concentrating.
It gets super frustrating when this isn't identified on any form or discussed with the parents. It can become a guessing game and when I've approached parents about their child being on the spectrum, some of them are shocked.
From experience and over time though, I have developed a confidence where I am able to notice even the smallest ‘difference’ and tailor my delivery to these awesome children.
The reason why coaching staff need to know these things is so that they can better understand the athlete and how to best manage them in training as there is a big difference between a child diagnosed ASD and an unruly child that is looking for negative attention.
Coaching athletes on the spectrum is very rewarding. Their attention to detail and understanding intricacies of technique is phenomenal. Children with ASD stick to a sport such as BJJ more than other 'normal' sports because they are able to work at their own pace. The expectation to keep up with other children is not there and they don't get overlooked by their coaches.
I often use the analogy of children being pop corn; they all get the same amount of heat and oil, they just pop at different times. Any child that steps on the mat gets their opportunity to shine. They don't have to win a wrestle to be noticed and more often than not it's the little things they do that the coaching staff notice the most.
When I first started coaching, my coach said to me once that irrespective of who that athlete is they could be the next world champion and should be treated as such. It's stuck with me ever since and as such I give everyone the opportunity they deserve at training. Many of the world champions in the sport of BJJ are on the spectrum. Just take a look at Mikey Musumeci or Keenan Cornelius!
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