12 Benefits Of Yoga And Support Dogs For Children With Autism
The Law Of… Improving The Wellbeing Of Children With Autism
Managing daily life isn't always straightforward for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), especially if they get stressed out or anxious quite easily.
Samantha Hale, Associate in Education Law and Community Care, shares 12 tips on how yoga and therapy dogs can have a positive effect on your child's wellbeing.
6 Ways Yoga Can Improve The Wellbeing Of A Child With Autism
As one of the most popular forms of mindfulness, yoga offers children with autism a new perspective on how they see and experience the world around them.
Practising yoga also:
- Teaches children how to better understand their emotions – yoga can help children with autism become more in tune with their own emotions, and build on their ability to understand the feelings or expressions of others.
- Minimises any anxiety they feel – sensory difficulties and trouble with communication are some of the challenges that can cause children with ASD a lot of anxiety. Yoga can relieve physical tension as well as refocusing their minds.
- Helps them develop coping strategies for stressful situations – low, ambient lighting and soothing music during yoga sessions can help calm autistic children down, and is especially helpful for children with sensory needs. Through meditation, they can learn breathing techniques that are useful for dealing with anxiety.
- Builds their self-confidence and self-esteem – through a regular yoga routine, children can develop a greater sense of control over their bodies and thought processes. You could even reward your child for every pose they master, which could encourage them to keep going.
- Reduces the difficulties they might have with their motor skills and behaviour – children can improve their motor skills as yoga improves their muscle tone and co-ordination. This can lead to them having a better understanding of their mental and physical reactions to certain situations.
- Improves concentration skills – research has shown that school children with ASD who did yoga for 10 days had improved their levels of concentration.
6 Benefits Of Support Dogs For Children With Autism
More than just a furry companion, support dogs (also known as assistance dogs) for children with autism are given special training so that they can help children manage their daily life.
With their assistance, children are able to live more independently whilst gaining new skills like socialisation. There's various organisations around the UK, such as Dogs for Good, Autism Life Dogs, and Support Dogs, which provide assistance dogs for autistic children.
Although a support dog might have different benefits for every child, some of the ways in which they could improve your child's life include:
- Keeping your child safe – if your child has a tendency to run off or walk away from you when you're out and about, some support dogs are trained to sit down when they sense this is happening.
- Improving your child's communication and language skills – some non-verbal children have even developed their verbal communication according to Autism Life Dogs.
- Reducing your child's stress levels – spending time with a pet can keep children happy, and simple activities like walking the dog can help them – and you! – unwind.
- Promoting positive changes in your child's behaviour – assistance dogs can have a therapeutic effect on autistic children, including those who are prone to emotional outbursts or meltdowns.
- Offering comfort to your child when they're upset – as it can be hard for autistic children to share their feelings or confide in someone, an assistance dog can cheer them up when they're feeling down.
- Helping your child get used to new surroundings – visiting new places can be tricky for children who are sensitive to change, but support dogs can minimise any anxiety they feel.
Samantha explains why alternative therapies and assistance dogs can make a big difference to some children with autism:
"Having an outlet for any anxiety or stress can work wonders for children with autism or SEND.
"Many children also have additional needs on top of autism, like sensory needs or other learning difficulties, which can be difficult for them to manage. Different therapies and assistance dogs might be able to help children relax, and can also offer many other benefits like helping them develop their social and motor skills."
"If your child has autism or another type of SEND and you're not sure what support they can access, our Education Law experts will be happy to help. We can help you obtain an EHCP and advise you on any SEND Tribunal appeals."