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Soror
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I've been contacted about teaching yoga to kids with Autism. My training is focused on inclusivity and adaptations but it only covers so much. While I've had good friends with Autistic kids my own children do not, so my experience is limited. They will be providing people to help with behaviors but I want to do what I can to make the class an enjoyable and successful experience with the kids.

 

My own thoughts- which may be off base-

- make sure explanations are clear

- let kids know ahead of time what we are doing

-smooth transitions.

-watch for sensory overload- with kids yoga we do partner and group yoga a fair amount as most kids love it but that is something that might be too much- they can get loud and it requires a lot of personal interaction, soft soothing music if any

-breathing, meditative and relaxing exercises are probably where I will focus first-- I want to start slow and do things I think they can build some confidence and not get frustrated as to what they cannot do

-slow and steady work on balance and strength (watch stretching as hypermobility can be an issue)

 

Does anyone have resources to point me to? Tips or advice? 

Edited by soror
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I've been contacted about teaching yoga to kids with Autism. My training is focused on inclusivity and adaptations but it only covers so much. While I've had good friends with Autistic kids my own children do not, so my experience is limited. They will be providing people to help with behaviors but I want to do what I can to make the class an enjoyable and successful experience with the kids.

 

My own thoughts- which may be off base-

- make sure explanations are clear

- let kids know ahead of time what we are doing

-smooth transitions.

-watch for sensory overload- with kids yoga we do partner and group yoga a fair amount as most kids love it but that is something that might be too much- they can get loud and it requires a lot of personal interaction, soft soothing music if any

-breathing, meditative and relaxing exercises are probably where I will focus first-- I want to start slow and do things I think they can build some confidence and not get frustrated as to what they cannot do

-slow and steady work on balance and strength (watch stretching as hypermobility can be an issue)

 

Does anyone have resources to point me to? Tips or advice? 

 

are the other adults going to be able to help watch for sensory overload and step in with a particular child?  (getting the focus on them - and maybe doing a focused calming pose with them?)  it's really hard for you if you're teaching a group to do anything for the one having a hard time unless you do a calming pose for the entire group.

hypermobility can be a problem for some (that can actually be a problem for circ du soleil contortionists) - other's could have hypomobility.

 

your ideas do sound good.  just remember - what works for one may or may NOT work for another.  and that's just the way it is. 

 

best of luck - yoga is bilateral and can be really good for asd kids developmentally.    bless you.

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Your ideas are good. How about a picture schedule for class activities, so they know what is going to happen?

 

That is a great idea, which makes me also think that if I end up doing multiple classes it won't hurt to keep them fairly close to the same

are the other adults going to be able to help watch for sensory overload and step in with a particular child?  (getting the focus on them - and maybe doing a focused calming pose with them?)  it's really hard for you if you're teaching a group to do anything for the one having a hard time unless you do a calming pose for the entire group.

hypermobility can be a problem for some (that can actually be a problem for circ du soleil contortionists) - other's could have hypomobility.

 

your ideas do sound good.  just remember - what works for one may or may NOT work for another.  and that's just the way it is. 

 

best of luck - yoga is bilateral and can be really good for asd kids developmentally.    bless you.

Yes, there are supposed to be parents and others there to help. I know w/ the k'ers I work with some are on the spectrum and I set up a special mat with calming activities and the teacher steps up to assist any kids that need to take some chill time. I guess it would probably work the same, except it would be a whole class.

 

Yes, on the bolded I hope my generalizations weren't offensive. I don't know the individual kids yet so I have to go on is info about commonalities- I do know that they will all be different. I was hoping to get confirmation or correction on what I've read and seen. The 2 kids I know personally present very differently.

 

That is a good point on hypo/hyper from what I'm reading there is an issue w/ muscle tightness w/ hypermobility, which can make it tricky. I need to study up more on that, we will need some stabilization work and also work to make sure we are loosening up the right parts.

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My son had done some yoga.

 

My suggestions are, if there ways to add in a favorite animal or something, just by calling something by a different name, kids can like that.

 

Have adaptations in mind for kids very weak in motor skills, so they don't get frustrated.

 

Consistency is good.

 

If you can have a good transition activity/routine at the beginning and end, maybe something the kid already do -- that can go a long way.

 

Some kids do very well with video. If you ever could take video or let kids follow a video, some kids like that.

 

Some kids do well with "jobs" like helping with mats or really any made up job.

 

Edit: my son has really liked yoga, although it hasn't always gone really smoothly (especially when he was younger).

 

I hope it goes well, I bet the kids will like it :)

 

Oh, maybe a picture schedule.

Edited by Lecka
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My son had done some yoga.

 

My suggestions are, if there ways to add in a favorite animal or something, just by calling something by a different name, kids can like that.

 

Have adaptations in mind for kids very weak in motor skills, so they don't get frustrated.

 

Consistency is good.

 

If you can have a good transition activity/routine at the beginning and end, maybe something the kid already do -- that can go a long way.

 

Some kids do very well with video. If you ever could take video or let kids follow a video, some kids like that.

 

Some kids do well with "jobs" like helping with mats or really any made up job.

 

Edit: my son has really liked yoga, although it hasn't always gone really smoothly (especially when he was younger).

 

I hope it goes well, I bet the kids will like it :)

 

Oh, maybe a picture schedule.

Thanks for all of your tips. I thought it would be good to ask the parents/leaders beforehand about any favorite things b/c we can do class built around anything, like dinosaurs or Pokemon or whatever, if I can find a similar interest for the kids. I need to add that to my intake forms. Great tip about assigning jobs, that will be a great way of framing the rules and expectations in a positive manner. I need to think of a beginning and ending activity to do each time.

 

I think this will depend on your group, but keep in mind some kids could have very, very weak motor skills, so may need to do very simple things.

I think I'm going to just have to start off very easy so I can get a gauge as to where they are at.

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It would be good to also read through so Social Thinking resources by Michelle Garcia Winter. They will give you a great sense on the nuances that exist across the spectrum and why meltdowns and rigid thinking happen. She is also an awesome and entertaining person to listen to.

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That is a great idea, which makes me also think that if I end up doing multiple classes it won't hurt to keep them fairly close to the same

Yes, there are supposed to be parents and others there to help. I know w/ the k'ers I work with some are on the spectrum and I set up a special mat with calming activities and the teacher steps up to assist any kids that need to take some chill time. I guess it would probably work the same, except it would be a whole class.

 

Yes, on the bolded I hope my generalizations weren't offensive. I don't know the individual kids yet so I have to go on is info about commonalities- I do know that they will all be different. I was hoping to get confirmation or correction on what I've read and seen. The 2 kids I know personally present very differently.

 

That is a good point on hypo/hyper from what I'm reading there is an issue w/ muscle tightness w/ hypermobility, which can make it tricky. I need to study up more on that, we will need some stabilization work and also work to make sure we are loosening up the right parts.

 

not at all.  you're doing something to help, and sincerely asking for advice on how to best implement it.  your caring shows.  even though my son wouldn't be in your class - on behalf of your students parents - thank you.

 

My son had done some yoga.

 

My suggestions are, if there ways to add in a favorite animal or something, just by calling something by a different name, kids can like that.

 

Have adaptations in mind for kids very weak in motor skills, so they don't get frustrated.

 

Consistency is good.

 

If you can have a good transition activity/routine at the beginning and end, maybe something the kid already do -- that can go a long way.

 

Some kids do very well with video. If you ever could take video or let kids follow a video, some kids like that.

 

Some kids do well with "jobs" like helping with mats or really any made up job.

 

Edit: my son has really liked yoga, although it hasn't always gone really smoothly (especially when he was younger).

 

I hope it goes well, I bet the kids will like it :)

 

Oh, maybe a picture schedule.

 

 

the foam blocks etc. are good for  props.  maybe even draw some faces on them.  =D.  make them silly.  dudeling loves silly  . . . . 

there's an "animal yoga' dvd series out there aimed at kids.  should give some useful ideas.  I tried to do it with him, but he wouldn't ever even stay in the room.

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Awesome and sure you will have fun!

 

Also limit the class size as my kiddo and several other kids I know don't like large groups. Maybe no more than five. Make sure the room you use is either soundproofed or the walls don't echo. Be prepared to do things in short spurts. You may end up spending more time working on balance or doing positions that don't require major balance. Depends on the age of the kids. As someone said up thread each child will have different abilities so what works for one may not work for another. However as long as parents are there to help, shouldn't be an issue.

Edited by Robin M
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Make sure the room you use is either soundproofed or the walls don't echo

 

This, this, this. Seriously, even reading that flashed me back to gym class, and now I can't find anything more constructive to say because I'm too busy mentally cringing at the memories. The echos. The never ending echos!

 

(Also, flickering lights. Ugh. When you've got a shiny ceiling fan, honestly, it's like a strobe effect.)

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I think what you've considered is great. How old are the kids? You may have already said, but I missed it. Will you have other adults in the room?

 

I would be mindful not to have the music too loud, and to keep your own voice at a very moderate tone. One of my boys (both are autistic) is very sensitive to sudden noises or changes in tone -- even noises that aren't loud, but are sudden, are scary for him and would end with him holding his hands over his ears, screeching, and rocking or running out of the room. 

 

Remember that a language delay very often goes hand-in-hand with autistic kiddos -- expressive language delays, receptive language delays, or mixed. We still have to use "caveman-speak" with our youngest DS (almost 5). 

Watch how many steps are in the directions you relay, either shown or verbally given. Many of these kiddos are still struggling with following even two step directions, likely, if they are younger.

 

At the end of the day, autistic kids are all individuals, so it's hard to generalize. Each kid will have different needs, even if they have some similarities, and they will be receiving a wide variety of interventions outside of your class, each with different goals and many using different methods. For example, a picture board would do nothing to help my guys, because you would first have to take the time to introduce it and teach them how to follow it -- because picture schedules aren't, yet, part of their day at home.

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Kids "on the spectrum" can often be very, very literal so try to avoid metaphors and figurative language.

Oh, gah -- yes. 

 

I only know yoga from sitcoms, but I would hesitate (in the OP's shoes) to use names of moves (or whatever they are called) that are named after animals. Reverse dog? I don't know -- I was watching parenthood and thought I saw this one -- but it would confuse my boys for the entirety of the class, if they didn't flat-out refuse to participate in a "dog move." 

 

Metaphors and symbolism go completely over their heads.

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Thank you guys for all the good ideas and tips, this is wonderful. I know there will be a learning curve but I'm feeling like I'm getting good info so I have somewhere to start without being totally clueless.

Kids "on the spectrum" can often be very, very literal so try to avoid metaphors and figurative language.

 

Good point, I use sarcasm and joke too much, I'll have to watch that.

Flexibility is key. Designate a spot for kids to rest or watch if they don't want to participate. Dont expect all the kids to do everything at the same time.

 

With kids yoga participation is never required. It took me a few classes with my k class, which has kids on the spectrum to think of making a chill spot but I did that in our last class and it worked really well and gave the kids an opportunity to participate in their own way on their own time. I had some coloring sheets(mandalas) at a table and then a mat w/ an eye mask(if they wanted to lie down- I thought it would be good to help block out everything-) and feathers (we use them for breathing and relaxation). I was thinking next time I should bring my son's fidget cube, of course, I don't know if too many options are overwhelming I just wanted to put out some different things that might appeal to them. The meditation jar and feathers were huge hits. I just wonder how that would work with a whole class, should I bring in something for each of the kids to use at their own mat? I worry about the chill spot being taken and somebody else needing it, that is why I had a station for coloring and relaxing last time so there was at least 3 seats/spots available.

 

the foam blocks etc. are good for  props.  maybe even draw some faces on them.  =D.  make them silly.  dudeling loves silly  . . . . 

there's an "animal yoga' dvd series out there aimed at kids.  should give some useful ideas.  I tried to do it with him, but he wouldn't ever even stay in the room.

 

Ha, I'm good at silly :)

It would be good to also read through so Social Thinking resources by Michelle Garcia Winter. They will give you a great sense on the nuances that exist across the spectrum and why meltdowns and rigid thinking happen. She is also an awesome and entertaining person to listen to.

thanks for the book rec!

 

This, this, this. Seriously, even reading that flashed me back to gym class, and now I can't find anything more constructive to say because I'm too busy mentally cringing at the memories. The echos. The never ending echos!

 

(Also, flickering lights. Ugh. When you've got a shiny ceiling fan, honestly, it's like a strobe effect.)

I hope to get a nice place to practice but we'll see what they come up with, I'm kind of at the mercy of what they have on that.

 

I think what you've considered is great. How old are the kids? You may have already said, but I missed it. Will you have other adults in the room?

 

I would be mindful not to have the music too loud, and to keep your own voice at a very moderate tone. One of my boys (both are autistic) is very sensitive to sudden noises or changes in tone -- even noises that aren't loud, but are sudden, are scary for him and would end with him holding his hands over his ears, screeching, and rocking or running out of the room. 

 

Remember that a language delay very often goes hand-in-hand with autistic kiddos -- expressive language delays, receptive language delays, or mixed. We still have to use "caveman-speak" with our youngest DS (almost 5). 

Watch how many steps are in the directions you relay, either shown or verbally given. Many of these kiddos are still struggling with following even two step directions, likely, if they are younger.

 

At the end of the day, autistic kids are all individuals, so it's hard to generalize. Each kid will have different needs, even if they have some similarities, and they will be receiving a wide variety of interventions outside of your class, each with different goals and many using different methods. For example, a picture board would do nothing to help my guys, because you would first have to take the time to introduce it and teach them how to follow it -- because picture schedules aren't, yet, part of their day at home.

 

I will have parents and helpers there. I haven't been told ages yet. Great points here about keeping it simple and watching language. Maybe a picture schedule could be an option for those that use it? I could ask about that. 

Oh, gah -- yes. 

 

I only know yoga from sitcoms, but I would hesitate (in the OP's shoes) to use names of moves (or whatever they are called) that are named after animals. Reverse dog? I don't know -- I was watching parenthood and thought I saw this one -- but it would confuse my boys for the entirety of the class, if they didn't flat-out refuse to participate in a "dog move." 

 

Metaphors and symbolism go completely over their heads.

This sounds like another difference here, or I'm misreading- as gardenmom and Lecka rec. animal yoga but you are saying yours wouldn't like that. Hopefully, with some work on intake I can get a handle for some individual preference before going into it. 

Edited by soror
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Awesome and sure you will have fun!

 

Also limit the class size as my kiddo and several other kids I know don't like large groups. Maybe no more than five. Make sure the room you use is either soundproofed or the walls don't echo. Be prepared to do things in short spurts. You may end up spending more time working on balance or doing positions that don't require major balance. Depends on the age of the kids. As someone said up thread each child will have different abilities so what works for one may not work for another. However as long as parents are there to help, shouldn't be an issue.

Good point on class size, I hadn't thought of that. I don't know about sound proofing, we'll see what I can get. I guess I need to think about going slow, of course better to over plan and not need it, we'll just get through what we get through.

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Great suggestions so far.

 

Since change can make these kids anxious, I'd be intentional about having a schedule of when and how you will introduce new concepts/positions. For example, perhaps you could start or end every class by having everyone sit on their mats and simply watch you demonstrate one new move then you could talk them through how it should be done and demonstrate it once more. Then when you get to the point in class where the newest position is coming up, give them a brief warning ("after we count to 10 we are going to be doing our new position, ready") so they can mentally make the switch before their bodies need to change position.

 

Thank you for offering this class! If you were in our area I'd love to participate.

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My son is fine with imitating animals, but he is young. It will just depend! And a picture schedule on the wall is fine if you go with that, no need to make individual ones. A common thing is to tape up the pictures and take them down as completed (or ask a helper, if you want fake jobs). No big deal either way, though.

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