Monday, July 12, 2010

Kicking the Spectrum

I heard about Kicking the Spectrum on Twitter and was interested right away: autism and karate? I was thinking it would be awesome if there was an autistic Karate Kid. Then I got lost in daydreaming about how the original movie would have differed. Anyways, after snapping back into focus, I asked the people at Kicking the Spectrum if they wouldn't mind an e-mail interview. They didn't mind at all, hooray! So we get to learn more about this program and the people behind it:

Background information-personal connection to the special needs community

Stephanie Silverman

Working with children with special needs has always been something I have been pulled towards. When I was in the 6th grade, I was asked to be a “helper” in the classroom for children with special needs one day a week. I loved it! The following year, my younger cousin was diagnosed with autism. I was intrigued. I started doing research and learned everything I could about autism. I would visit my family and sit in on my cousin’s ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) sessions and soak it all in. I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. I continued to volunteer with children with special needs in both my town’s summer school program and the local Challenger League, a softball league for children with disabilities. By the time I entered college at the University of Maryland, I knew without a doubt, that early childhood special education was going to be my major and when I graduated I would work with children with autism utilizing ABA. I had seen this methodology help my once non-verbal cousin become a high functioning individual in a typical classroom. Once, I graduated from Maryland, I found my way to an ABA classroom at a special needs preschool in Brooklyn. I worked there for two years and started my Master’s degree at NYU. During my time at NYU, I worked as an ABA therapist doing 1:1 therapy with children in their homes around NYC. Finally, I landed at the McCarton Center for children with disabilities, where I work as an ABA therapist.

Working with children with autism and other disabilities is not only a job for me, it’s a passion. I love the look in a child’s eyes when the “light bulb” goes off. Or when a parent witnesses their child have a breakthrough. It’s not often that a person loves what they do when they go to work everyday, I consider myself very lucky!

David Rosenberg

I started studying martial arts at 7 years old. It was recommended to my parents after I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Though I was unaware of the diagnosis, I took to martial arts. It helped teach me the focus that I needed in my everyday life. As time progressed my love for the sport increased and my desire to give back increased. At 15 years old I began to teach, mainly the younger students. My instructor, World Champion Tokey Hill, began taking me to do demonstrations with him; this was when I first was exposed to children with special needs. I was able to work at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children. St. Mary’s Healthcare System is one of only a handful of organizations around the country that is dedicated to providing intensive rehabilitation, specialized care, and education to children with special needs and life-limiting conditions. Subsequent to my encounters with St. Mary’s, I also worked with a child with Cerebral Palsy at a sleep away camp for 8 weeks.

I continued teaching throughout my remaining days in high school and through out college. I also have taught on and off through out the past few years and martial arts has never been far from my heart, however it hasn’t been until now that that spark has been reignited.


It is a martial arts inspired program developed to teach and motivate students with special needs to combine fitness and wellness for life. This innovative program incorporates the fundamentals of Japanese Shotokan Karate. This unique program combines a martial arts instructor with an ABA (Applied Behavior Analyst) therapist in every class.


The concept was formulated when David took a trip with his father (who is also a practitioner of the martial arts) to Ohio, for the Arnold Classic. This is a competition that is put on every year for many different disciplines, karate being one of them. While waiting for his dad to participate (yes at 67 he still competes), He had the privilege to watch several students with special needs participate in Kata. A kata is a series of movements that are choreographed patterns of movements.

Martial Arts is something David and his father did together for many years, so it was only fitting that David would take the trip with his dad when he decided to compete in this huge event. While at the Classic, David saw something that both intrigued him and energized him. He watched while children with special needs competed in this competition and he saw the look of pride on not only their faces but their parents as well. David came home and immediately told Stephanie what he saw and he thought it would be amazing to start a program to teach martial arts to children with special needs in NYC, specifically children with autism and other developmental disabilities. David excitedly told Stephanie how martial arts has been proven to help with focus and discipline and self-esteem. Having grown up with ADD himself, David felt that martial arts really helped him feel empowered and helped him learn how to focus and stay disciplined. These skills carried over to the classroom and helped him become a better student as well. However, David knew from Stephanie’s stories and from interacting with Stephanie’s cousin that children with these disabilities learn differently. Many conversations later, Stephanie and David came up with a program that was unlike any other program currently available. They would co-teach the martial arts classes, utilizing both a modified martial arts curriculum and the techniques of ABA that have been proven a very effective methodology in instructing children with developmental disabilities. This program would combine the passions of both David and Stephanie and would potentially help many families with children on the spectrum.


The program has been designed for children ages 4 and up, but exceptions can be made based on each individual. We are located on the Upper East Side of New York City.

We can be found at however; the site is up but being worked on. We can also be found on twitter at Finally we can be found on facebook at


At this point in time we are still in the early stages of the business. We have only been open a few months, but as time goes on we would love to share our success more with you and your readers.

We just want to say thank you so much for taking interest in our program. It has been a long journey to get this off the ground and we have high hopes that Kicking The Spectrum will be able to benefit the special needs community. If you ever find yourself in New York City you have an open invitation


Tammy said...

I keep hoping that there will be a program like this available in our community. I think he would enjoy it.

KickingTheSpectrum said...

Where are you located?

Unknown said...

Please take a look at the following link. It is a program called "Karate for All" that I offer in Montreal, Canada. Based on the principals of Kyokushin Karate, it is offered for school aged children who are high functioning on the spectrum. Please feel free to email me should you have any questions at$EN$/kyoforall.htm

We offer the course in three languages - English, French, and Japanese.

Nicole said...

Thank you for the very interesting read. A very similar program has been offered in NYC for quite a few years now.
They also offer after-school programs next to classes on the weekend.

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devansh said...

I am sharing this testimony for my daughter who suffered autism for 7 years. I am doing this, because I was her mother and caregiver  during her dark days and am very happy to share it so that others can be helped through  DR WILLIAMS HERBAL MEDICINE. It was a tough a battle for her; I was not actually the one who hard autism, but bearing the burden makes me understand what parents whose children and love with autism go through.
Lesia now 19 and was diagnosed with autism at the age of twelve, for seven years, she fought against her diagnosis. I must admit it was never easy for us as a family; we had to constantly watch her, and answer questions that we couldn’t explain. On several occasions, she asked if she will ever stop having speech delay and get well like her school mates and be the best swimmer she dreamt of becoming. She was a very happy child; and had a ‘normal’ childhood and there was no suggestion that she would later on develop autism. 
She refused to accept defeat and fought autism. She religiously kept to her medications in spite of their side effects. We all wanted a cure, so that she can chase her dream and live a normal life like every other child. But the more she takes these medications, the more her school grade drop. She couldn’t concentrate and we noticed that her memory was being severely adversely affected. Each time we went back to the hospital, her medicines were changed to a different one. Seems like, each change of drug brings about change in side effects. After about 6 years on   Abilify ,  Geodon  , and other medicines, it seemed the autism started to increase in frequency. I had to make effort to reduce her medicines with plans to eventually stop it all. We found an alternative treatment in homeopathy, which was better than her English drugs. Gradually, I reduced her drugs, and her autism were no longer as frequent as it was as when she was on conventional drugs.
With our little breakthrough with homeopathy treatment, we made further search for natural cure. Fortunately we saw testimonies about herbal medicines which cure autism. We saw a lot of claims though, contacted them and didn’t get a useful reply. Lucky for us, we finally got a reply from Doctor Williams, he directed us to his blog where we saw a lot of information about his herbal medicine . Without further delay I made a purchase for her, I switched her over to it. We had great breakthrough, that in 3 weeks, her autism reduced. After 1 months as Doctor Williams promised , all autism symptoms stopped. It was like a miracle for us. since all this days now Lesia became autism free. Her story is quite lengthy, I hope it also help someone out there.for more information you can email Dr Williams on  

kate said...

As a sign of gratitude on how my son was saved from autism, i decided to reach out to those still suffering from this.
My son suffered autism in the year 2013 and it was really tough and heartbreaking for me because he was my all and the symptoms were terrible, he always have difficulty with communication,and he always complain of poor eye contact  . we tried various therapies prescribed by our neurologist but none could cure him. I searched for a cure and i saw a testimony by someone who was cured and so many other with similar body problem, and they left the contact of this doctor who have the cure to autism . I never imagined autism  has a natural cure not until i contacted him and he assured me my son will be fine. I got the herbal medication he recommended and my son used it and in one months time he was fully okay even up till this moment he is so full of life.autism  has a cure and is a herbal cure,you can contact the doctor for more info on on how to get this medication, Thanks.