Yoga and kids with autism


This may be a silly question because maybe the answer is - you teach them just like any other kid, but I was wondering about teaching children with autism about yoga. Specifically, kids who have severe receptive and expressive communication delays, short attention spans, challenges with follwoing directions.


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Will you have more than one autistic child? Will there be an adult with each child? If so, perhaps inservice the adults first.
Keep moves to a minimum, allow motor hand movements or whatever the child needs/does to feel comfortable–you might try mimicing them and incorporating their motions into an asana.
Keep is slow and quiet–if any music, it should be soft and non-intrusive. Simple surroundings/calm atmosphere etc. Be cautious with any touch–ask first and if you get no response, if you don’t know the child well, consider not touching unless it is absolutely necessary.
Hope this helps some. Have you ever worked with autistic kids before? They take in more than it looks sometimes. I wish you luck and hope all goes well.

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Great question! I’m a speech language pathologist and work regularly with children who have autism. (Also new to the community and posting for the first time to a forum, hope it works!)

Give yoga a try- more than one session too! The first time for anyone (doing really anything, including yoga) is new and people with autism need a little extra time and support to familiarize. I encourage foreshadowing what you’ll be doing by showing them a video of children their age doing yoga and use a visual daily schedule to let them know when they’ll do it and what they’ll do after (which could be a motivating thing or activity!). It’d be especially helpful to let them see pictures or videos of the body positioning, to bridge some receptive language gaps. I would also keep verbal instructions simple and concrete as you get into practice. If time boundaries are helpful for them to relax, offer a timer of some sort. A fun video of belly breathing could be a nice intro to start your practice as you tackle various yoga poses. Hope that helps!

Try new things or ways to engage their interests in the practice. If at first you don’t succeed , breath and hug yourself, and try again.

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