Here are a few points if you wish to prepare your child on the autism spectrum to attend a yoga class.
Choose a traditional class such as one you would find at a typical yoga studio. This will prepare them to generalize their experience to new settings. Depending on the child’s ability, he/she may eventually be able to attend a class with neurotypical children in a typical yoga class setting.
Why a traditional class? Because, if you haven’t noticed there a quite a lot of yoga styles and a lot of hybrid classes offered in recent years. Doga (yoga with your dog), yogilates, hot yoga, power yoga, restorative yoga.
Kids yoga takes many forms–most include songs, stories, games, props, toys, circular mat arrangements and more, that are as different from other kids yoga classes as they are from traditional hatha yoga classes.
When the student reaches adolescence or adulthood, the preparation of a children’s class may not serve them as well.
- Kids on the autism spectrum need clear rules of behavior. You and the yoga teacher must be very specific about the rules and rituals of practice. Staring and talking to other students is clearly not permitted. Everything must be very explicit.
- This may mean finding a class at a studio you like. Solicit the teacher’s help in teaching this routine to your child at home or in private sessions. Before bringing your child to the public class, see if the teacher can find a few willing students to attend a semi-private class with your child. These volunteers must also be taught the rules that your child has learned.
- When the time comes that you and the teacher feel that your child is ready to attend a public class, be sure to enlist the help of the regular students. Of course, the regular students must be encouraged to follow proper social rules in class to solidify the generalization of the experience for your child.
The last thing you would want to add to typical class distractions would be casual conversation, joking, and attention getting behavior on the part of students.
Interestingly enough, most adult classes do not emphasize socialization. People come to class for a serious workout. This is not surprising when you consider that yoga is meant to be a personal experience. Your yoga teacher will typically remind you in class not to compete or compare yourself with others (0r yourself for that matter).
As you can see, the caveat is that many kids yoga classes place an emphasis on socialization activities, toys/props, game playing, creative visualization. This could be challenging and frightening for a kid with ASDs to join in. If this kind of kids class is your only choice, you will need to prepare your child for the non-yoga activities.