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January 2011



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A pioneer of martial arts coaching for children with Asperger Syndrome and high functioning autism has recently discovered she, herself, has Asperger Syndrome.

Sandra Beale-Ellis, the National Association of Karate and Martial Art Schools (NAKMAS) National Director of Operations and Lead Equality and Quality Manager, was clinically diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome after devoting a large commitment to understanding and coaching young people with the condition.

Sandra has led the way in designing an instructor training programme for NAKMAS, in conjunction with the National Autistic Society, to enable instructors and coaches within the martial arts to extend their scope to include students with Asperger Syndrome, high functioning autism and students with special needs in their martial arts classes.

Sandra is also 10 months into a Doctorate in Education specialising in issues impacting on the pedagogy of students with autism within sport and physical activity via Sheffield Hallam University.

Sandra’s knowledge and commitment has been supplemented by her own experience of Asperger Syndrome from her husband Joe Ellis, who has the condition himself. Joe is chair of NAKMAS and has been a keen advocate of Sandra’s pioneering efforts to include young people with Asperger Syndrome and high functioning autism into martial arts learning.

Sandra said: “I have taken a keen interest over the past ten years in understanding autistic spectrum conditions including Asperger Syndrome and applying that understanding to something I am passionate about – teaching martial arts. Studying Asperger Syndrome and seeing it first-hand with Joe resonated with me, so it was always in the back of my mind that I too perhaps had Asperger Syndrome and other colleagues in the autism field had suggested it as well.

“Even so, I couldn’t believe that I could be in a marriage where both of us had AS, but neither of us knew until now. We have been together nearly 21 years and the fact we are still together is a miracle.

“I still can’t quite believe I have this condition, and have had it my whole life. I was a loner at school, making friends with boys mainly as I didn’t have to compete with or understand them as much. I have a few real friends now and don’t make new friends easily.

Read in Full:  http://www.responsesource.com/releases/rel_display.php?relid=60995

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