What is Autism?
1st September 2017
Autism or autism spectrum disorder, refers to
a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills,
repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism is a spectrum
disorder that means the level of ability varies from low to high. No two
individuals with autism are similar.
Autism may exist independently in a child or one
or more conditions may exist along with it. It is common for a child with autism to
have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or intellectual disability.
According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control, USA), the prevalence of autism is 1 in 68 children and occurs more commonly in boys than girls.
Possible Causes of Autism
Even after years of research, a
cause for autism has not been established. According to research there are about
100 genes that may cause autism. The general consensus is that most cases involve
genetic and environmental factors that affect the development of the brain.
The environmental risk factors of autism are the age of the parents at the time of conception, maternal illness
during pregnancy, severe prematurity in the baby, low birth weight,
difficulties during pregnancy/birth, oxygen deprivation and mothers who are
exposed to pollution and high levels of pesticide.
Environmental factors may be a
factor that increases the risk of autism.
It is important to remember that autism is NOT caused by bad parenting.
Red Flags of Autism
responding to their name by 12 months of age.
showing interest in any object by 14 months.
playing imaginative games by 18 months.
Avoids eye contact.
Has trouble understanding emotions.
Has delayed speech and language.
Repeats words and phrases.
Gets upset by changes.
Has obsessive interests.
Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins objects.
Has unusual reaction to smells, sounds or light
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Yoga and Autism
13th November 2017
A one on one or group yoga therapy can bring in many changes in a child with autism.
1. Increased social communication
As our experiences reveal, performing the asanas along with simple rhymes and songs piques the children's interest and makes the actions fun and interesting. With time the children respond to the tune and sing along while doing yoga. The foundations of social interaction like saying 'hello' and 'goodbye' to all their classmates gets major attention in the yoga classes.
2. Comprehension and body awareness
Relying on short, simple instructions is vital during the yoga sessions. Instructions like "Fold your left leg" are specific, short and is composed on only one action. The children find it easy to follow and promotes body awareness and is helpful in teaching directions. The children are made aware of each body part and their functioning which are at times missed in the classroom and develops control and dexterity. Asanas focusing on body balance help develop the proprioceptive and the vestibular systems.
3. Reduced anxiety and challenging behaviours
Asanas like Shavasana encourage complete relaxation as well as body awareness. Tensioning and relaxing each muscle of the body starting with the toes sounds challenging but has huge benefits. Usually done at the end of the yoga session, the teachers report the children come back to class visibly relaxed and calm.