Improve Childhood Autism with Yoga

Improve Childhood Autism with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“yoga can be of significant benefit to children with ASD. In addition to benefits typically associated with yoga such as increased strength, balance, coordination and flexibility, benefits such as increased social-emotional skills, language and communication, body awareness, self-regulation, focus and concentration and a reduction in anxiety, impulsive, obsessive, aggressive and self-stimulatory behaviors have also been noted.” – Shawnee Hardy

 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that tends to appear during early childhood and affect the individual throughout their lifetime. It affects a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others, delays learning of language, makes eye contact or holding a conversation difficult, impairs reasoning and planning, narrows and intensifies interests, produces poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities, and is frequently associated with sleep and gastrointestinal problems. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been increasing markedly over the last couple of decades. It is currently estimated that over 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Centers for Disease Control estimates that in the U.S. 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 

ASD is a serious disorder that impairs the individual’s ability to lead independent lives including completing an education, entering relationships or finding and holding employment. Its causes are unknown and there are no known cures. Treatment is generally directed at symptoms and can include behavioral therapies and drug treatments. Clearly, there is a need for effective treatment options. Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful in treating ASD. Exercise has also been shown to help relieve some of the symptoms of ASD. It stands to reason, then, that the combination of mindfulness training and exercise provided by yoga practice would be effective for the symptoms of ASD.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of Structured Yoga Intervention for Sleep, Gastrointestinal and Behaviour Problems of ASD Children: An Exploratory Study.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5427410/, Narasingharao and colleagues performed a pilot study the ability of yoga training to alleviate some of the symptoms of Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They recruited children between the ages of 5 and 15 years who had been diagnosed with ASD and their parents. Children were excluded if they had severe health issues or exhibited symptoms of Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). The children were randomly assigned to receive either 90 days of structured yoga instruction and practice for 75 minutes daily in the morning or to a no treatment control condition. The yoga program included breathing exercises, postures, and relaxation. The parents and teachers of the children completed evaluations before and after treatment of the children’s sleep, gastrointestinal problems, and behavioral problems.

 

They found that after treatment the yoga group, but not the control group, demonstrated significant improvements in sleep and increases in uninterrupted sleep, significant improvements in digestive problems, and significant improvements in behavior. The children improved in attention, hyperactivity, social interactions, verbal behavior, cognitive performance, body awareness, and autistic behaviors. This was a pilot study and a randomized controlled trial needs to be conducted with an active control group, more objective measures of behavior, and longer term follow-up. The active control is needed to determine if the exercise and not the yoga per se was responsible for the improvements. Nevertheless, the results are striking and certainly justify the investment in performing a larger trial.

 

The findings are exciting. Keeping in mind the limitations in drawing conclusions based upon a pilot trial, the results suggest that yoga practice produces significant improvements in the symptoms of Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. These improvements, in turn, markedly improved life for the parents and teachers. Since ASD is so difficult to treat, the present results are particularly exciting and suggest that the discipline of yoga may be of great benefit to the children with ASD and the people who have to care for or teach them.

 

So, improve childhood autism with yoga.

 

“It seems there is little these days that doesn’t benefit from yoga, and it is amazing to see yoga work its magic on children with autism and their families.” – Elizabeth Rowan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Narasingharao, K., Pradhan, B., & Navaneetham, J. (2017). Efficacy of Structured Yoga Intervention for Sleep, Gastrointestinal and Behaviour Problems of ASD Children: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, 11(3), VC01–VC06. http://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2017/25894.9502

 

Abstract

Introduction

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neuro developmental disorder which appears at early childhood age between 18 and 36 months. Apart from behaviour problems ASD children also suffer from sleep and Gastrointestinal (GI) problems. Major behaviour problems of ASD children are lack of social communication and interaction, less attention span, repetitive and restrictive behaviour, lack of eye to eye contact, aggressive and self-injurious behaviours, sensory integration problems, motor problems, deficiency in academic activities, anxiety and depression etc. Our hypothesis is that structured yoga intervention will brings significant changes in the problems of ASD children.

Aim

The aim of this study was to find out efficacy of structured yoga intervention for sleep problems, gastrointestinal problems and behaviour problems of ASD children.

Materials and Methods

It was an exploratory study with pre-test and post-test control design. Three sets of questionnaires having 61 questions developed by researchers were used to collect data pre and post yoga intervention. Questionnaires were based on three problematic areas of ASD children as mentioned above and were administered to parents by teachers under the supervision of researcher and clinical psychologists. Experimental group was given yoga intervention for a period of 90 days and control group continued with school curriculum.

Results

Both children and parents participated in this intervention. Significant changes were seen post yoga intervention in three areas of problems as mentioned above. Statistical analysis also showed significance value of 0.001 in the result.

Conclusion

Structured yoga intervention can be conducted for a large group of ASD children with parent’s involvement. Yoga can be used as alternative therapy to reduce the severity of symptoms of ASD children.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5427410/

Improve Autism with Yoga

Improve Autism with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Children with autism have very different sensory experiences from other people, and these responses often cause their bodies to get stuck in fight, flight, or freeze modes that divert blood from the digestive organs to the skeletal muscles. This activity results in disrupted digestion, increased heart rate, and shallower breathing—all of which readily provoke anxiety. Yoga helps a student’s body to get out of the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response, and to feel more relaxed and less anxious. When the body is no longer in the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response, blood returns to the core and the body can do its work of breathing.” – Louise Goldberg.

 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that tends to appear during early childhood and affect the individual throughout their lifetime. It affects a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others, delays learning of language, makes eye contact or holding a conversation difficult, impairs reasoning and planning, narrows and intensifies interests, produces poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been increasing markedly over the last couple of decades. It is currently estimated that over 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Centers for Disease Control estimates that in the U.S. 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 

ASD is a serious disorder that impairs the individual’s ability to lead independent lives including entering relationships or finding and holding employment. Its causes are unknown and there are no known cures. Treatment is generally directed at symptoms and can include behavioral therapies and drug treatments. Clearly, there is a need for effective treatment options. In today’s Research News article “Relaxation Response–Based Yoga Improves Functioning in Young Children with Autism: A Pilot Study.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3221508/

Rosenblatt and colleagues study the application of yoga practice for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a pilot investigation.

 

They recruited children between the ages of 3 to 16 who were diagnosed with ASD and divided them into preschool (ages3-4), latency (ages 5-12), and adolescence (ages 13-16) groups. The children continued their usual treatments plus practiced yoga for 45 minutes once a week for eight weeks. Parents were instructed to encourage yoga practice at home guided with a CD. The program included breathing techniques, postures, music and dance, and relaxation. The participants were measured before and after the 8-week treatment period for behavioral symptoms, atypicality, depression, externalizing, internalizing, aberrant behaviors, and irritability.

 

They found that the latency group (ages 5-12) after the 8 weeks of yoga practice showed significant improvements in behavioral symptoms, atypicality, depression, externalization, internalization, and irritability. These are interesting results, but it was a pilot study, lacking a control condition. So, conclusions must be highly tempered. Nevertheless, over the course of the study the 5 to 12-year-old children had significant improvements in ASD symptoms.

 

It is particularly interesting that atypicality was improved. Atypicality involves the core characteristics of autism, including all of their atypical behaviors, behaviors well outside the norms. Interestingly, it also involves extremes in intelligence, from genius to retardation. So, yoga practice appears to go right to the core of autism and improve the unusual behavior that are typical of ASD. This is particularly significant and provides impetus to performing a large randomized clinical trial of yoga practice as a treatment for autism spectrum disorder.

 

So, improve autism with yoga.

 

But seeing the kids—many of whom were extremely anxious, withdrawn, or angry—let go, for even a moment, was a revelation. We were amazed at how effective yoga was with these children and how much they enjoyed it.” – Louise Goldberg.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Rosenblatt, L. E., Gorantla, S., Torres, J. A., Yarmush, R. S., Rao, S., Park, E. R., … Levine, J. B. (2011). Relaxation Response–Based Yoga Improves Functioning in Young Children with Autism: A Pilot Study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17(11), 1029–1035. http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2010.0834

 

Abstract

Objectives

The study objectives were to develop and objectively assess the therapeutic effect of a novel movement-based complementary and alternative medicine approach for children with an autism-spectrum disorder (ASD).

Design

A within-subject analysis comparing pre- to post-treatment scores on two standard measures of childhood behavioral problems was used.

Settings and location

The intervention and data analysis occurred at a tertiary care, medical school teaching hospital.

Subjects

Twenty-four (24) children aged 3–16 years with a diagnosis of an ASD comprised the study group.

Intervention

The efficacy of an 8-week multimodal yoga, dance, and music therapy program based on the relaxation response (RR) was developed and examined.

Outcome measures

The study outcome was measured using The Behavioral Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2) and the Aberrant Behavioral Checklist (ABC).

Results

Robust changes were found on the BASC-2, primarily for 5–12-year-old children. Unexpectedly, the post-treatment scores on the Atypicality scale of the BASC-2, which measures some of the core features of autism, changed significantly (p=0.003).

Conclusions

A movement-based, modified RR program, involving yoga and dance, showed efficacy in treating behavioral and some core features of autism, particularly for latency-age children.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3221508/

Care for Autism Caregivers with Mindfulness

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting

Care for Autism Caregivers with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindful Parenting is a contemplative practice through which our connection to our child, and awareness of our child’s presence, helps us become better grounded in the present moment” – Mindful Parent

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost to the caregiver. It exacts a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality.

 

Providing care for a child with autism can be particularly challenging. About one out of every 68 children is considered autistic. These children’s behavior is characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. These make it difficult to relate to the child and receive the kind of positive feelings that often help to support caregiving. The challenges of caring for a child with autism require that the parent be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive to their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction.

 

The skills developed with mindfulness training become particularly important with caregiving for children with autism. All of the challenges of parenting become amplified. The application of mindfulness skills to the parents of children with autism is relatively new. So, it would seem reasonable to investigate this further. In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions on quality of life and positive reappraisal coping among parents of children with autism spectrum disorder.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1422543424436246/?type=3&theater

or see summary below, Rayan and Ahmad recruited parents of children with autism and randomly assigned them to either receive 5 weeks of mindfulness training or a no-treatment control group. Mindfulness training was delivered in weekly 2.5 hour sessions with accompanying homework. The parents were measured prior to and after the training for quality of life, the ability to positively reappraise stress, and mindfulness.

 

They found that after mindfulness training the parents, not surprisingly, were significantly higher in mindfulness. Importantly, they also had significant improvements in quality of life including both psychological and social aspects and showed significant improvement in their ability to positively reappraise stress. Mindfulness training appear to have relatively powerful effects as all of the effects occurred with moderate to strong effect sizes. So, mindfulness training produced positive improvements in the parents in their ability to cope with the stresses of caring for an autistic child and improved their quality of life.

 

These results are important. Caring for a child with autism is difficult and takes a toll on the parents. They need help and support. The findings demonstrate that mindfulness training may be a powerful treatment to improve the parents’ quality of life and ability to cope with the stresses. Mindfulness training may do this by focusing attention on the present moment. Thinking about the past problems with the child and looking to future issues can result in deep worry, rumination, and catastrophic thinking. This amplifies the stresses of parenting a child with autism. By moving attention to just dealing with what is occurring in the present, these stresses can be coped with on their own basis alone, without amplification. This should markedly improve the quality of life for the parents.

 

So, care for autism caregivers with mindfulness.

 

“through mindfulness practice, we can come home to ourselves, getting on our own best side, attending to our own needs in a way that only we can do for ourselves. Parenting can be so hard, so the intention is to not make it worse. We learn to let go of unrealistic expectations, to love and accept ourselves more and more as we really are, finding more and more wholeness. Our children are in need of our unconditional love. But, we cannot give what we do not possess. Therefore, we must begin first with ourselves, experiencing more and more kindness, compassion and self-acceptance. As a result, this begins to naturally flow to our children, more and more.” – Lisa Kring

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

 

Rayan A, Ahmad M. Effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions on quality of life and positive reappraisal coping among parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Res Dev Disabil. 2016 Aug;55:185-96. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2016.04.002.

 

Highlights

  • QOL is considered a critical outcome for measuring the effectiveness of intervention programs for parents of children with ASD.
  • To date, little is known about the effectiveness of MBI on QOL and coping in parents of children with ASD.
  • MBI can improve psychological and social domains of QOL and enhance coping in parents of children with ASD.
  • Parents who non-judgmentally respond to their children are expected to report better QOL and positive stress reappraisal coping.
  • The MBI should be considered as a supportive intervention to help parents of children with ASD.

 

Abstract

Background: Previous research has supported mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) to enhance quality of life (QOL) in different populations, but no studies have been found to examine the effectiveness of MBIs on QOL among parents of children with ASD.

Aim: The purpose of the current study was to examine the effectiveness of brief MBI on perceived QOL and positive stress reappraisal (PSR) among parents of children with ASD.

Methods: A quasi-experimental, with nonequivalent control group design was used. One hundred and four parents of children with ASD were equally assigned to the intervention and control groups. The study groups were matched on measures of their gender and age, and level of severity of ASD in children. The intervention group participated in MBI program for 5 weeks, while the control group had not attended the program.

Results: After the intervention program, results of paired samples t-test indicated that parents in the intervention group demonstrated significant improvements in measures of psychological health domain of QOL, social health domain of QOL, mindfulness, and positive stress reappraisal with medium to large effect size (P < 0.01). The control group demonstrated improvement in measures of the dependent variables with small effect size.

Conclusion: MBI is culturally adaptable, acceptable, and effective method to improve QOL and PSR in parents of children with ASD.