Donna Nelson shares five simple, practical and easy to implement tips for parents. A yogi, Donna also has a background of over 20 years in front-line Social Work and as a Chief Executive Officer with an Autistic charity in Scotland working with children and adults with autism. Donna believes passionately that yoga can provide benefits to individuals with autism. On 7-8th March this year, Donna has been invited to deliver yoga based workshops at the National Autistic Societies’ Annual Conference in Birmingham.
Tips & Tricks
I invited Donna to share some tips for parents to consider when learning to better understand their child with autism and some useful links:
Focus on the positive
Just like anyone else, children with autism spectrum conditions often respond well to positive reinforcement. That means when you praise them for the behaviours they’re doing well, it will make them (and you) feel good. Be specific, so that they know exactly what you liked about their behaviour. Also, as you would with anyone on the spectrum praise your child for who he or she is. As a parent, loving your child for who they are, is key.
Stay consistent and on schedule.
People on the autistic spectrum like routines. Make sure you give them consistent guidance and interaction, so they can practice what they learn from their yoga therapy. This can make learning new skills and behaviours easier and help them apply their knowledge in different situations. Talk to their teachers and therapists to try to align on a consistent set of techniques and methods of interaction across all areas of their life’s.
Play on the schedule.
Finding activities like yoga that seem like pure fun, and not more education or therapy, may help your child open up and connect with you. This is so beautiful to watch when you see this happening with you and your child in a yoga session.
Give it time.
You’ll likely try a lot of different techniques, treatments, and approaches as you figure out what’s best for your child. Stay positive and try not to get discouraged if they don’t respond well to a particular method. In some yoga sessions it can take weeks for a child with autism to even get on their mat. Make sure that you let them know that it is ‘their’ mat and they are welcome to sit on it whenever they want.
It is so important that you meet the child with no expectations of what you think they ‘should’ be doing in a yoga session.
You need to meet the child where they are at and always invite them to decide. A lot of children on the spectrum are constantly being told ‘what to do or not to do’ in a special needs yoga session it is always about them not us and we meet them wherever they are at.
Take your child along for everyday activities.
If your child’s behaviour is unpredictable, you may feel like it’s easier not to expose them to certain situations. But when you take them on everyday activities, it may help them get them used to the world around them. Therefore, when considering this in regards to yoga, be mindful to take them along to the same yoga class, at the same time, preferable with the same teacher. Make sure also that the area/studio that they are being taught yoga in isn’t too ‘busy’; the more calming and tranquil the environment is the better.
RYT Yoga Teacher and Special Needs Yoga & Mindfulness for Autism and ADHD Practitioner. She’s happy for you to message her with any questions so you can contact her on either of the below.
The National Autistic Society https://www.autism.org.uk/.
Scottish Autism https://www.scottishautism.org/.
Autism Initiatives https://www.autisminitiatives.org/.
Perth Autism Support http://www.perthautismsupport.org.uk/
We have three Special Yoga & Mindfulness for Autism & ADHD running over the spring, in:
Bournemouth: 6th – 8th February 2019
Glasgow: 28th February – 2nd March 2019
London: 7th – 9th May 2019