Sometimes an individual with autism will take to a particular activity that ends up serving as another form of therapy for them. ICare4Autism.org has previously reporting on a few examples of this, such as in our Breaking Free Therapeutic Riding Center feature, where children learned social and communication skills while horseback riding.
Nick Talent is an 18-year-old teenager with high-functioning autism. At age 14, Nick was very shy, had difficulty making eye contact, and struggled to verbally communicate. That year, Talent took up karate. He is now light years ahead of where he was at 14: he no longer has trouble making eye contact, and can meet and greet with others as any person would.
Talent’s parents were unsure of what athletics programs to enroll him in when he was younger, because they feared his autism would be too much of an obstacle. They eventually decided to enroll him in a karate program, and his sister and mother joined him.
However, Talent’s sister and mom didn’t last. They soon dropped out while Talent put more dedication into his karate than his parents had ever seen him put into anything. They never once had to push him to practice.
After finishing his home-schooling, Talent would go down into his basement and work on his moves. One of his instructors at his karate program, Michael Lash, commented: “When we were teaching, he would look you straight in your eyes. He’s very intent. He soaks everything in. That enables him to have exquisite technique. He’s one of our best board-breakers.”
Recently, Talent passed his test to earn a black belt. He now holds the highest rank achievable in the karate program.