Yoga Improves Classroom Behaviors in Children with Autism

The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has increased dramatically over the last decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently increased its estimate of the prevalence of autism has increased from 1 in 150 children to 1 in 110 children.

This indicates that there has been a 600% increase over the past 2 decades in autism spectrum disorders, and a 57% increase over the past 4 years alone. The most recent figure from the CDC pegs the number of children diagnosed with ASD at as much as 1 in 88 children.

Children with ASD present unique challenges in the classroom. They are typically unable to regulate their own behavior, and because of their high or low levels of stress or emotional arousal, complex cognitive processes are compromised.

A study recently published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, looked at the effectiveness of a school-based yoga program on children with ASD, the Get Ready to Learn program. One group of children participated in the yoga program daily for 16 weeks, while a control group engaged in their standard morning routine.

At the end of the study period, students in the yoga program for kids with autism showed significant decreases in teacher ratings of aberrant behaviors, including irritability, lethargy, social withdrawal, hyperactivity, and noncompliance compared with the control participants. The researchers concluded that use of daily classroom-wide yoga interventions has a significant impact on key classroom behaviors among children with ASD and recommend yoga as a viable option for improving classroom behaviors in children with autism.

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