Von Schleicher with his taekwondo instructor, Lisa Stone
All it took was one demonstration and Von Schleicher was hooked. As he watched the team from Stone Martial Arts demonstrate the Korean martial art of taekwondo, he had to learn more. His mother, Bethany, soon enrolled him in the Academy and five years and four belts later, Von is on his way to becoming a Black Belt in taekwondo.
Von, 24, was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. From that point, his mother did whatever it took to help him live well. At age six, he began with a gluten-free/casein-free diet. As he grew, she made sure Von had what he needed to live up to his potential. This love and support came with expectations, too.
“I treated him as I would have treated any other child,” Bethany said. “I’m behind him all the way and he surprises me daily.”
Von graduated from Martins Ferry High School and explored various opportunities to improve his skills after graduation. Since 2016, he’s been developing physical and mental prowess through taekwondo.
Martial arts help improve balance, coordination, focus and self-regulation for people with autism and Bethany said Von is calmer and less stressed because of the training.
Stone Martial Arts is owned and operated by Jacob and Lisa Stone. Von’s teacher is Lisa, a 4th Degree Black Belt and practicing occupational therapist, who worked with Von when he was seven years old.
“When I met Von, I was at the beginning of my career working with people with autism ,” Lisa said. “He taught me more than I taught him at the time.”
She noted that Von had difficulty focusing, attending or doing any type of activity.
“The Von I see now can stand in front of me and do taekwondo,” she said.
Lisa has created adaptations of the martial arts for people with disabilities, focusing on what they can do, but there is still a standard she upholds.
“I require everything of Von that I do for everyone else and Von always meets the standards, if not going above them,” Lisa added.
Under Lisa’s watchful eye and instruction, Von attends classes twice a week where he learns more than just fighting skills. He is training his body and mind in anticipation of the intense, four-hour Black Belt test.
Lisa said that Von is fun and has bonded with people. He can now demonstrate his skills in front of the class, a huge accomplishment for him.
“He’s on the verge of being a black belt and that is something most people don’t even think about,” Lisa said.
When not practicing martial arts, Von is a frequent visitor to the library where he uses the computer and checks out his favorite books and movies. Von is involved in his community and participates in baseball with the Miracle League and basketball with Upward Sports.
Von has a goal of becoming a Black Belt in taekwondo and there is no doubt that this intelligent, talented young man will achieve it.
Note: Stone Martial Arts is a family owned and operated dojo for people of all ages and abilities. To learn more, log onto www.stonemartialarts.com or call 304-238-8083.