Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), also known as Asperger’s Syndrome, is a disorder that affects the brain. Many people have trouble processing sensory information. This can lead to them being stuck in a “fight, flee, or freeze” response to certain stimuli. Sensory overload may cause breathing problems, anxiety, fear, and physical pain. Yoga may help those with ASD, according to new research. Yoga, which focuses on the connection between mind, body, and breath, helps to develop the sensory system. This allows people with ASD better process stimuli and regulate themselves.
Some promising studies should be noted, even though research on Yoga’s benefits for people with ASD has been limited. In one such study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine over two months, the effects of Yoga on children aged 8-14 were examined. The daily yoga class group showed positive results compared to the control group in social interaction, emotional awareness and sensitivity, and self-regulation. Parents and caregivers noticed positive changes at home, including improved eye contact and verbal communication, which helped them interact with family members and other children.
Each yoga therapy session focused on fostering a feeling of safety in the students, as relaxation depends upon this. Each child received a mat to create their personal safe space.
By the study’s end, many children showed improved posture, improved imitation skills, and fewer self-stimulatory behaviors. They could also imitate individual vowel sounds and the ‘om.’ The study found that many children had improved posture, better imitation skills, and less self-stimulatory behavior. They were also able to vocalize “namaste” and imitate vowel sounds.
Many other inspiring stories illustrate a dedicated practice’s benefits to youth. A high school student diagnosed with ASD decided to become certified as a yoga instructor after many years of group and personal yoga practice. She eventually led a class of more than 1,000 students in an outdoor yoga session. In China, a boy diagnosed with ASD aged three is now the country’s newest certified yoga teacher. These examples show how Yoga can empower children with ASD to overcome the challenges that come with their diagnosis.
Yoga interventions are becoming more common in the U.S. as evidence for the benefits of Yoga on Autism grows. Together in Motion is a newly-formed grant-funded group within the Autism Society Central Ohio. It offers yoga services to youth aged 12 and older. The program is expanding with the support of local outreach campaigns and as more parents are witnessing the benefits of Yoga.
Visit YogAutism or Asanas For Autism And Special Needs for more information on the benefits of Yoga for people with Autism. Radiant Child Yoga is also a good resource. These organizations provide yoga therapy to children with Autism. They also offer training for integrating Yoga into treating children with learning and development differences.