Marital Arts for a nuerodivergent 7 year old-- Albany/Berkeley

Hello! My nuerodivergent 7 year old would like to start marital arts. He has really bad anxiety that causes some challenging behaviors during group activities. I am looking for a marital arts program that has experience working with kids with behavior challenges. I think programs who have experience/expertise with kids with ADHD, ASD, kids with sensory challenges, and/or kids who externalize anxiety would all likely be a reasonable fit for him. We live in the North Berkeley/Albany area, so ideally we would find a class nearby.  

There are similar questions in the BPN archives but they are all several years old, so I am looking for updated recommendation. THANK YOU!!

Parent Replies

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My 5-year-old son recently started attending Judo classes at Hanabi in Albany, and I couldn't be happier with our experience so far. The instructors and older kids who assist with the younger class are wonderful. In the brief time we've been there, I've witnessed their incredible support towards children with ASD and sensory challenges. They adapt to each child's individual needs with care and understanding.

I had some concerns about my son's ability to focus and follow directions, suspecting he may have ADHD. However, I've been pleasantly surprised by how the classes are structured. While there's an emphasis on learning respect and taking the classes seriously, the atmosphere is also relaxed and inclusive. All the kids are encouraged to be themselves, move around if needed, and most importantly, have fun.

I'd recommend dropping in to chat with someone and they'll let your child participate in a class before making any commitments :)   

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This is not a direct answer to your question, but perhaps it's helpful. I have a friend who's family ran a martial arts studio for many years. They had and appreciated neuro divergent kids (back then neuro diversity was not as commonly known, but such kids were obvious to them). The required focus was very grounding for neuro diverse kids and they often went on to become top students. 

You could probably start with what studios are well respected in any case, then contact them and ask directly about your case.