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Mum blasts Neasden karate club for refusing to train her two autistic children

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:54 28 November 2018

Nikki Raza with her children Mya, eight, and Isiah, five. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Nikki Raza with her children Mya, eight, and Isiah, five. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Jonathan Goldberg

A mother has accused a karate club in Neasden of discrimination for not accepting her two children, who have autism.

Nikki Raza has appealed to the Neasden Shotokan Karate Club (NSKC), which operates out of The Crest Academy, in Crest Road, to teach her children. The club’s owner told the Kilburn Times he would need a qualification to teach autistic children, and allegedly told Nikki his insurance wouldn’t let him teach her kids.

When she called the club in May to make enquiries for her daughter Mya, eight, and son Isiah, five, she was invited in for a taster session.

But last month, when she finally called back to make an appointment, she was told to look elsewhere.

The 41-year-old, who lives nearby, said: “I made enquiries for my children to join our local karate club, which is five minutes from our home, and was told by the instructor he cannot train autistic children because his insurance won’t allow him to.

“I find it hard to believe any insurance policy will exclude autistic children.

“He completely rejected my children joining, and said he wasn’t qualified to teach autistic children.

“Teachers in school aren’t qualified to teach certain children – they are qualified to teach everyone. What next? Will my children not be allowed on school trips? They already get left out of things. It’s just not right, This club is clearly discriminating against my children based on their disability.”

Nikki said her children are “over active, constantly jumping around and always looking for different amusement”.

Mya was introduced to martial arts at her after school club, but now Nikki wants them in a proper club where they’ll “be graded and get certificates and colourful belts”.

“The doctor suggested getting them into sport – get them to do as much sport as possible, which will distract and challenge them and help them with team work. It will teach them to be sociable. It will help them with all of that.”

NSKC owner Adam, who would not give his last name, said his insurance policy was confidential, adding: “I don’t have a qualification to work with children with autism. Other clubs have someone to help them. I don’t have an assistant to help me run the club with those kids with autism – I work by myself.

“I understand she can go to a different club.”

Jane Harris, director of external affairs at the National Autistic Society, said: “We still hear too often about autistic children and adults who aren’t able to participate in activities that we should all be able to and often take for granted.

“This contributes to the appallingly high levels of social isolation among autistic people and their families.”

She added: “Autism is often considered a hidden disability because the needs of 700,000 autistic people in England are not always immediately obvious.

“The challenges autistic people face with sensory overload combined with anxiety about public misunderstanding their distress can make it hard for autistic people to go out at all.

“A basic understanding could transform the lives of autistic people and their families, allowing them to take part in activities, go to the shops, the cinema, and work in the way other people can often take for granted.

“We’d encourage people interested in finding out more about autism to visit autism.org.uk.”

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