Research Shows that Yoga for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Is Beneficial!

Some of the greatest difficulties for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are anxiety, uncontrollable behaviors as well as language and coordination difficulties.

My experience in teaching yoga to children has shown that it can help tremendously to soothe the nervous system and release anxiety, improve self-control and coordination. It has also shown that children who were diagnosed as selective mute, started to talk after gentle movement.

Eliza Barclay’s article “Classroom Yoga Helps Improve Behavior of Kids with Autism”, Oct. 12, 2012 confirms that the children with autism who participated in yoga behaved better, showed less aggressive behavior, social withdrawal and hyperactivity then the children who did not participate.  This is the result of a 16 week study in a Bronx school. Researchers found that kids who practiced yoga every morning exhibited significantly fewer problematic behaviors overall than the control group. The key was to reduce anxiety and give kids a strategy to cope.  They used yoga stretches, breathing activities, and singing. As  a regular morning practice, yoga allows children to become calm, focused and ready to learn.

Another research was done in Hartford, Conn.  An 8-week multi-modal program with yoga, dance, and music therapy based on the relaxation response also showed positive results.  The behavior of the children was assessed with BASC-2 and ABC. The study found that the core features of autism measured on the BASC-2 significantly changed.

As far as I know, few schools are open to having a daily yoga class at this time. The next best thing is for a parent and child to go to a yoga class at least once a week,  so they can learn the movements together and then practice them every morning. This will help them both. A parent who models yoga for his/her child gets the same benefits and can lower his/her own stress level significantly by helping the child to control his or hers. This is a wonderful way to start the day!


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