Joshua S. Betts is an eleven year old, sixth grader with Asperger syndrome, which is a mild form of autism. Joshua began practicing yoga with his mother, Stacy W. Betts, co author of Yoga for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders A Step By Step Guide for Parents and Care Givers. “Mom said that the breathing (yogic breathing, meditation) could help me stop flapping when I am not supposed to. I used to flap when I was bored or nervous about the school day. Mom told me to take some deep breaths…since I was thinking about my nose and air coming into my body, I could not think about flapping at the same time (Betts, 15). Yoga is rapidly becoming an alternative form of intervention for the special needs student, particularly children with autism spectrum disorder and emotional behavioral disorder. Due to yoga’s relaxing effects and the skills students develop in yoga, yoga teaches the student to control their own behavior and offer relief for some of their symptoms.
“Any child can benefit from yoga” according to the founder of Special Yoga Centre, Jo Manuel (Cooper, 24). Manuel’s center is located in North London, and has been providing yoga therapy sessions for children with varying special needs since the year 2001. Each yoga plan is individualized for the particular child that is being served. “Whatever their mental or physical capacity or incapacity they can still benefit” says Manuel (Cooper, 25). Even children who cannot communicate can benefit like, Joshua, from yogic breathing. Even the child’s caregiver can help by sitting next to the child and breathing slowly and the child will pick up on it. For this reason, there is a growing body of research on the effects of yoga for children with autism spectrum disorder or emotiona...
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