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Cariboo Yoga

Cariboo Yoga for Children with Autism

Children LOVE to play Cranium Cariboo.

Teaching yoga to children with autism often requires visual props.  Cariboo Yoga is a fantastic way to incorporate visual supports and take the child on a magical treasure hunt.

Cariboo Yoga for Children with Autism

Before starting the game, I read a simple social story that describes the rules and the number of breaths each pose will be held.  (Unsure how to write a social story? Check out this article.)

I choose 15 poses that I want the child to learn.

  • The child must perform each pose for a specified number of breaths, starting with 5 and working up to 10 breaths.
  • I count the breaths out loud with each pose.
  • Before the child can unlock the door to see if a treasure ball is hidden inside, he or she must do the pose with me. While holding the yoga pose, I state the name of the pose several times so the name is associated with the pose. For example, if we are in down dog, I say statements such as “I’m a happy dog.” or Let’s wag our dog tails.”
  • I constantly repeat the name of the pose.
  • Once the child feels comfortable and knows the names of the poses you can slowly integrate flowing between poses and fade the game out.

This is a great way to not only build rapport, but strength, flexibility, and working memory.  Put in a great sea faring playlist and have a good time. After all a pirate’s life is a happy life.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me!

Fish Oil, Really?

When fish oil is typed into a search engine phrases, including curbs Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms, is the key to unlocking the ADHD brain, and is more effective than Ritalin appear.  But does fish oil really improve attention?  Unlock the brain? Improve autism symptoms?

This is what can be conclusively said about omega-3 fatty acids.  Children with ADHD and autism have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood.  This is believed to be due to an inability to metabolize and absorb some micronutrients. Cognitive and neural growth depends on omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are often lacking in the child’s diet.  A deficit of omega-3 fatty acids may result in not only atypical behaviors, but chronic health problems as well.  When there is an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fats the body has increased inflammation and it changes the balance of fats available to the brain and nervous system, which hinders the child’s brain function.  Recent evidence demonstrates that this imbalance may be associated with a variety of physical and mental health disorders, such as ADHD and autism (Montgomery et al., 2013).

So yes, while it may not entirely unlock the brain.  Fish oil can supplement psychotropic drugs and improve brain functioning in children with a deficit of omega-3 fatty acids.  No need for a fishing pole, just head to a reputable source such as Whole Foods.  After all who wants to take rancid fish oil high in mercury? Happy fishing.

Reference

Montgomery, P., Burton, J. R., Sewell, R. P., Spreckelsen, T. F., & Richardson, A. J. (2013). Low blood long chain omega-3 fatty acids in UK children are associated with poor cognitive performance and behavior: A cross-sectional analysis from the DOLAB study. PLoS One, 8(6) doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0066697

Autism and Yoga presentation

Yoga Reduces Core Features of Autism

April is autism awareness month. What better way to spread awareness than sharing great research? I recently presented at the Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) conference in Boston, Massachusetts on yoga as a treatment for autism. I was shocked by the warm reception and positive feedback. After all don’t most psychologists prefer to write on clipboards instead of hanging upside down pretending to be a dog?

Recent research has linked yoga with reducing symptoms related to autism. Rosenblatt et al. (2011) conducted a study with twenty-four children aged 3-16 to determine the efficacy of a relaxation response based-yoga program for eight-weeks. All participants had a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Researchers found yoga improved behavioral and some core features of autism. The improvements are hypothesized to be due to yoga’s ability to target unique sensory symptoms found in children with autism spectrum disorder. Yoga incorporates the proprioceptive and vestibular sensory systems through movement and holding poses, which, in turn, calms overactive central nervous systems. Even though additional studies are needed to conclusively provide evidence of efficacy, research is predominately positive regarding yoga as an adjunct treatment modality for autism.

This is OM-azing news to aide in the treatment of autism! So look for a qualified instructor who has worked with children with autism and release your inner down dog. Namaste.

Reference

Rosenblatt, L., Gorantla, S., Torres, J., Yarmush, R., Rao, S., Park, E., Denninger, J., Benson, H., Fricchione, G.,  Bernstein, B., & Levine. J., (2011). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 17(11): 1029-1035. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0834.

Key Terms

Proprioceptive and Vestibular: These hidden senses give children perceptions of movement and speed, pressure on joints and muscles, and position of our bodies.

Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children