Old 03-23-2005, 07:12 PM
patjunfa patjunfa is offline
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Tai Chi for learning disabilities


I've just started teaching Tai Chi to a group of people with various disabilitys last week. Some people had down's, some probably had cerebal palsy. Has anyone worked in a similar area? People had various levals of attention, and interactive ability. Where a couple could do a lot of what I showed, some moved very little. I have a friend who teach's dance and drama to similar groups. she says not to have expectations, as interacting, or moving a little bit a few times in the hour, may be great for that person. For some they'd be delighted just moving their fingers. Ie. their expectations and abilitys may not the same as ours.

We worked most of the time sitting in a chair, standing occasionally. I found I used a lot of differant movements. As they wern't able to understand any details I tryed to convey and only some were participating, I found I needed to move to the next movement to keep the attention. It became less about performing Tai Chi properly, and more about just encouraging movement. I don't think I'll be able to convey any details of breathing or posture, at least not yet. But I would like to find a way to get into a bit of a groove. Something to slow down with. Thinking of maybe bring in some nice material, which they may hold, as we sway with it. Something like that, that provides a break for them and me, from listenting to instruction and excercises. I'd also like to find a relaxation for the end, that they'd understand. Something very simple.

Any idea's or thoughts? Thanks to anyone whose read this far
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Old 03-23-2005, 11:04 PM
soraya soraya is offline
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Actually the best way is to observe, follow and repeat. This will create images in the brains of the students, even if they can't get it immediately. Tai Chi is a real art of doing and one learn by practising until the teacher's attitude will stick in their minds. Positive affirmations like music, encouragement, quiet voice, not more corrections than necessary. Practicing in a park outdoors also provide more positive results than anything mentioned above
Soraya L.Md PhD
Internist and Cardiologist

My passion for the art let me enjoy the hard work
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Old 03-25-2005, 05:45 AM
carolinew carolinew is offline
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Sometimes when my friends children are staying, they like to join in with my practice.

They have learning problems, so I keep it informal and they set the pace. When the children go back to their mum, they are more relaxed and even carry on doing one or two of the movements for a few weeks. Even their teachers at school notice the difference in how well they concentrate.

At school they asked for more information, I was happy to pass on details of this site and a couple of other reputable sites, and the P.E teacher has started some qi gong with children less able to do regular/normal P.E
peace, health and happiness
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Old 03-25-2005, 06:34 AM
BillT BillT is offline
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A similar topic was discussed earlier. Try using the "Search" function and enter "Autism".

The Special Olympics doesn't include Tai Chi, but under the auspices of that program, many children with learning disorders and other developmental disabilities successfully participate in physical training programs. Bill T.
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Old 03-25-2005, 12:04 PM
stephanietaylor stephanietaylor is offline
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I think the use of some material is very creative.
It may also help to use background music.
Stephanie Taylor, Master Trainer
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Old 03-25-2005, 02:03 PM
Dragon6743 Dragon6743 is offline
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I began working with my newest grandson a couple of weeks ago, and will continue to do so as time permits. He was born premature with some major physical problems, which have been corrected, and with Downs syndrome. I realize that he is only four months old and has been home from the hospital for two months, and that even with a "normal" baby, four months is a wee bit early to begin martial arts training, but none the less, I will continue to work with him as often as possible. I do a form of cloud hands, holding his in mine, which he seems to really enjoy! He is alert and active when he watches me do sections of taijiquan forms. My hope is to expose him to as much as I can early on in his life, and that maybe~~just maybe~~ he will benefit and grow to his full potential.
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Old 03-27-2005, 01:03 PM
patjunfa patjunfa is offline
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Thanks for all the replys.
I might consider if it was a nice day, doing it in a park. For the moment though, until I know the group, in a hall contains the energy more. Outside may be distracting. When I know them and them me, a bit better, It would b good, to add to the relaxation. I do use music, and lots of praise.
Some of the challenge for me is to accept how they are doing it. If one doesn't co-ordinate with the breath, then it doesn't seem right to me. Also posture, and many things are not going to be open to my correction. Yet it's meeting people where they are, then, then encouraging a bit more movement and softening.
I don't think there's the concentration to become absorbed in the details of any particular movement. Movements like parting horse mane didn't really work. Lifting water, brush knee, and warm-up like movements worked well. I did find last class, I could do movements for a bit longer, and people got into it more. The material was useful. Made a nice change from what we’d been doing, also it’s so soft; “try n sway as softly as the material”.

Good luck with your grandson. What you are doing sounds lovely
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Old 03-27-2005, 01:56 PM
Dr. Paul Lam Dr. Paul Lam is offline
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so nice to hear such kind people in the forum, and great advices. my contribution: stay simple and go with nature. don't force anything... pending on the disability, let your mind open and allow your intuition and kindness to guide you. i think one to one teaching is helpful... or in a very small class. i don't think breathing needs to be precise (see my article re breathing on Oct 2004 newsletter http://www.taichiproductions.com/new...dexpc_1004.php)

Like tai chi if we follow the flow of nature, and be satisfied with any gain. it would work better. For example, i would be happy to see just a little better in the control of any movement within one session. hope this helps.
Best Wishes

Dr Paul Lam
Family physician and conjoint lecturer, Univ. NSW
Director, Tai Chi for Health Institute
4 - 6 Fisher Place Narwee, Sydney NSW 2209 Australia
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e service@taichiforhealthinstitute.org
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PS: If you wish to communicate with me personally, please send an email to the address above and write on the subject line 'For Dr Lam's Attention'.
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