Imagine not being able to successfully process and communicate your daily thoughts and emotions. How would you react to the outside world and to others? Would frustration take over you? This is a daily struggle for all of my high school students with severe Autism and as a result, my students will resort to displaying destructive behavior, such as harm to self and others, screaming, throwing items, etc.
I am finishing my tenth year of teaching and am continuing to push myself to learn as much as I can about my student's disabilities and best methods for intervention.
This past summer, after researching the benefits of yoga for persons with Autism, I decided to use my own money to enroll in a 200 hour yoga teacher certification program. Since becoming certified, I have been trying to implement yoga into my student's daily schedule but lack the equipment and funds to successfully teach these much needed coping skills.
Transitioning into adulthood (high school age) is a critical point in person's with Autism lives. They must learn effective calming skills to not only improve their quality of life but to also increase the likelihood of adult independence.
As most people know, "If you've met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism". Every child in my autism self contained class has his or her own unique set of needs and challenges. However, what they all have in common is the difficulty to fully communicate, understand and regulate feelings which can result in extreme behaviors.
Research has shown that students with autism who participate in weekly yoga programs experience a reduction of pain, anxiety, aggression, obsessive behaviors, and self-stimulatory behaviors.
For my students to fully reap these benefits, I have asked for yoga mats, yoga blocks and yoga straps. This will allow me to focus less on whether the student is comfortable and/or correctly performing a pose and focus more on the actual therapy and teaching of yoga.
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