I write this with a genuine intention to help other families just like mine who are touched by special needs.
I have three amazing children, and two of them just happen to have special needs. High anxiety, sensory issues, dyspraxia, auditory processing issues, communication issues, poor coping skills, coordination and generally poor proprioception issues frequent our house (it all comes with having children with Autism and Aspergers).
We also have a neuro-typical teenager who has learned to work with his younger siblings by developing great coping and communication skills so he can live in our sometimes crazy household (it can be a hard gig being the sibling of children with special needs!)
My husband and I have tried many tools over the years, however, the most beneficial has been yoga and meditation. We have not only worked with our family to improve our connection as a family but have seen how amazing it can be as a therapy tool for special needs children and families in general. I cannot begin to list how many families have improved their lives by using yoga therapy tools in their homes and encouraged the use of these tools in their child's school, it is certainly a large number!
The benefits I have seen and experienced in my own family have been (1) better quality of sleep, (2) fewer meltdowns, (3) better movement, (4) better social connection with others and (5) emotional regulation.
Such an improvement in the quality of life for the child with special needs and the supporting people around them!
It's not about practising yoga for hours each day either, it is about giving the tools to the whole family to be well for everyday life, so a little bit each day can be better as it encourages routine and teaches body and breath regulation in bite size chunks!
Because yoga teaches us to breathe well, it can help us cope with overwhelming environments and situations and generally learn to relax. It can also help slow down involuntary movements as breathing well encourages more oxygen into the body which improves a wide range of things, including circulation. It also means that if we can breathe well, we can learn to be in a calm state, which means we can make better decisions and follow instructions better. It also teaches us to be more aware of how we should be feeling and to keep our muscles flexible and strong which means mobility will improve daily.
Make it fun, and keep it simple and importantly.... just breathe!
- Leah Chandler
Leah Chandler is Kids-Fit Australia. She loves teaching kids and families how to keep fit for everyday life, which includes her own family of 5! Leah is also the founder of the Family-Fit Online Program which helps families connect, laugh and play together through learning the basics of fitness, food, relaxation and fun! You can find out more about Kids-Fit Australia's Schools' and Early Learning Centres' Programs for Mainstream and Special Schools and her Family-Fit Online program here: kidsfitaustralia.com