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