Although parents of children with autism dream of a “silver bullet” most have come to accept that for the near future, a series of “tools” is the best for which they can cope. One of the latest tools found to help children with autism connect with the world, a school-based yoga program, looks promising.
A school yoga program known as “Get Ready to Learn”, conducted in the Bronx, was the focus of a study to see if yoga could be a helpful therapy for children with autism. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy published the results of the study, which appeared to prove the value of yoga for those suffering with autism. Among these children, those with yoga included in their daily school routine displayed less hyperactivity and aggression and were more sociable.
According to Kristie Koenig, New York University assistant professor of occupational therapy, students were observed for 16 weeks during which time they took part in a 17-minute daily yoga program. Results, based upon teachers’ ratings of students, showed that those children participating in the daily yoga routines displayed improved behavior compared to those who did not.
Professor Koenig believes that a program of systemic yoga, when utilized as a part of every public school classroom, could reduce classroom disruptions. Although the study was conducted using children with autism, there is no reason to assume only they could benefit.
To date, the same program is incorporated into the daily activities for children with special needs in over 500 classrooms in New York. Moreover, the yoga program is being included into general education classrooms in eleven other states.
It would appear that yoga has a calming influence on children in general, regardless of whether or not they have a disability. This is good news for every parent, but especially for those parents of children with autism. They now have a non-invasive, easy to implement tool to help their children combat autism.
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The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.