When I began this blog last year I wrote several posts about my background. I wrote about how prior to starting to train in multi-sport the only "sport" I had been successful at was martial arts and how I have a natural ability to pick up techniques. I also wrote about how it is still a love of mine and I would like to continue my training and maybe compete again given the chance.
Last January I began teaching a children's karate class at a for disadvantaged kids at a near-by community center. The organization it is through started with the purpose of providing karate and cheer to children who may not be able to afford it. I use the income from teaching this class to pay for multi-sport expenses.
Last semester I had a child in my yellow belt class who routinely did his own thing, barely paid attention, and over exaggerated every technique to a ridiculous point. I was at a race for belt testing and the instructor who conducted the tests for me passed him to green belt.
My green belt class is my favorite class, they have high energy, they pick up things fast, and we have a lot of fun. I was already thinking about how having him in that class may change how the class ran. I decided that I would sit the class down and without pointing him out talk about focus and how starting this year there would be penalties for not being focused or doing your own thing.
I started the class and as we did warm-ups the kid acted like he couldn't do push up or sit up. He just laid there not trying. We then reviewed basic kicks and he kept falling down (he been doing these for a year, nothing new) so I told him some things to do at home to make it better. Later in the class we were doing sparring drills and I would demonstrate the drill and they would take turns doing the drill on the bag I was holding. When it was his turn he walked up and did something completely different. I then stopped him and was giving step by step directions for the drill. Half way through my instructions he would stop listening and do his own thing. I sent him to the back of the line when he stopped listening, it had been my intention to make him do push ups for not listening, but I wasn't ready to do this yet.
After the class, I discussed with his mom about what i told him to do to help his kicks. She then told me that was probably because of his Aspergers. I nodded my head and said ok, with a calm face. In my head I blew up, thinking to myself WTF!!!!!! WHY HAS THIS KID BEEN IN MY CLASS FOR 6 MONTHS AND YOU HAVE NEVER TOLD ME THIS!!!!!! I have been thinking it was ADD, laziness, and/or poor home training. Now I need to readjust because punishing him with push ups just doesn't seem fair to me.
I plan to take my lunch hour today to research Aspergers and Autism and see if there is a way for me to adjust my teaching methods. This completely blindsided me, but I think it is a good opportunity to learn and grow as an instructor.