The effects of taekwondo on physical ability and social communication in children with autism from parent’s perspective

Kam Ming MOK, Emma MAK, S. W. L. WONG, D. CHAN, C. YU

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPosterpeer-review


Background: Taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art that incorporates various techniques such as strikes, kicks, and blocks. It emphasizes discipline, self-control, and respect. Taekwondo practices also emphasize following instructions, which may boost children’s social communication. In recent years, taekwondo has shown promising results in improving the lives of individuals with autism. Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is known to cause challenges in coordination and body movements. Studies have shown that practicing taekwondo can have significant benefits on balancing and physical ability for children with autism (Kim et al., 2016). However, a limited understanding of the change of physical ability and social communication has been attained from the parents’ perspective. The improvement in physical ability and social communication in daily life could enhance the living quality of both the children and parents. It is important to learn more about the observation from the parents on the children after a considerable period of Taekwondo training.
Objectives: This study aims to examine the parents’ observation of their children with autism, after 20 sessions of regular Taekwondo training.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews (around 30 mins) were conducted as the primary source of data collection to interview the parents (n=10) who had their children with autism joining the regular Taekwondo trainings. Informed consent was obtained for every interview and participants. Interview questions regarding the observation on the change of physical ability and social communication in daily life were asked, including ability to perform simple household tasks and other change in behaviors. To avoid personal bias and to aim for an interpretive understanding of subjects’ own perspectives (Charmaz, 2000), the researchers attempted at key points in the study to keep an open mind, and were willing to listen and gave voice to respondents in order to gain accurate findings and to corroborate them (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed by the researchers.
Results: All ten interviewees expressed that an improvement could be observed in their children after 20 sessions of regular Taekwondo training. The common observations included the improved ability to help out with simple daily household work such as filling water bottles and reaching items. Most of the interviewees (n=8) also indicated that their children were more willing to perform certain household tasks after a successful experience. There is also an enhancement of communication between parents and children. For example, children would like to show their Taekwondo technique to their parents and family members. Taekwondo training has the characteristics of discipline, obedience, repeated movement task and physical training. It may impact the children to enhance their social interaction such as communication and responsiveness. Future studies can reveal the core elements in Taekwondo to foster physical improvement in children with autism. In addition, a quantitative study should be conducted to validate and quantify the improvement.
Conclusions: Positive observations were expressed by the parents in the interviews. Taekwondo training had the potential to provide a platform to improve both physical ability and social communication.

Kim, Y.; Todd, T.; Fujii, T.; Lim, J.-C.; Vrongistinos, K.; Jung, T. Effects of Taekwondo intervention on balance in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation 2016, 12, 314-319. DOI: 10.12965/jer.1632634.317.
Charmaz, K. (2000). Grounded theory: Objectivist and constructivist methods. Handbook of qualitative research, 2(1), 509-535.
Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2024
Event2024 Annual Meeting of International Society of Autism Research - Melbourne Convention Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 14 May 202419 May 2024


Conference2024 Annual Meeting of International Society of Autism Research
Abbreviated titleINSAR 2024
Internet address


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