Yoga/Movement Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder
A powerful strategy for improving the physical and interpersonal functioning of children and adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Yoga/movement therapy can be a powerful strategy for improving the physical and interpersonal functioning of children and adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, says Vitalah Simon, a yoga/movement therapist who specializes in working with people with ASD.
According to Simon, the techniques involved help people on the spectrum build new motor, behavioral and communication skills, and help deepen the bond between them and their parents or caregivers.
“Through yoga/movement therapy, people on the spectrum become more grounded in space and time, improving their sense of body image and boundaries,” she says. “This supports them in distinguishing self from others. They develop increased eye contact, improve impulse control, lengthen their attention span, learn self-calming skills and expand their verbal and nonverbal expressive capacities. The techniques help them develop strength, flexibility and balance and become more related to others—plus, they have fun.”
Simon attunes to the developmental needs of people on the spectrum and creates movement challenges, yoga postures and games that specifically address their individual needs and those of their family members.
People with ASD often convey their challenges and limitations in their nonverbal behavior, she says, and yoga, movement and creative play directly engage with the behavior, enhancing connection and communication. “We encourage parents and caregivers to participate in dyadic and/or small-group sessions as we explore new choreography for the dance of relationships. Our techniques also help individuals with ASD learn repeatable skills that increase their ability to focus and self-soothe, while building physical strength.”