Yoga and Autism

Yoga and Autism

Yoga has been practiced for over five thousand years, and is a way to help you gain self awareness and mental, emotional, and physical well being. It has also been proven to have positive effects on children on the autism spectrum and those suffering from sensory processing disorder (SPD). If your child is on the autism spectrum or has SPD, yoga may be a relaxing and rewarding way for him to develop self-esteem and confidence, as well as enhancing his physical flexibility and concentration.

Physical Flexibility

Children on the autism spectrum typically have delayed motor development and poor muscle strength and tone. The various poses of yoga helps your child tone muscles and gradually build strength, while being calming and relaxing. This, in turn, helps her develop better body awareness and coordination at a slow pace, which helps prevent her from getting overstimulated.

Confidence and Self-Esteem

Whether you sign your child up for a yoga class or teach and guide him yourself, his success ultimately relies on him. Yoga is progressive, beginning with easy poses and gradually increasing intensity and difficulty. This helps him set goals and practice patience. His self-esteem and confidence will grow as he perseveres and masters poses with more difficulty. An added benefit if he takes a yoga class is that his social skills will also get a workout.

Sensory Integration

With a lot of exercises and physical activities, it is easy for your child to become overstimulated by such things as noise or bright lights. The yoga environment is meant to be calm and relaxing, so dim lights, soft music, and gentle voices are typical. The perfect environment for her if she is sensory sensitive. The less stimulated she is, the less likely she will have any uncontrolled behavior and outbursts.

Focus and Concentration

Yoga is not only stretches and poses, but breathing exercises as well. By learning breathing techniques, your child is learning a self-calming method, that he can carry with him into his everyday experiences. Visualization and focus are some more powerful tools that can help him in his daily life. Yoga can help him clear his mind and focus at the task at hand, which reduces stress and enforces positive well being.

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Yoga and Autism
Shandy Marso, Contributor

Carolina Pediatric Therapy © September 2014

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