Free Download! Yoga for Kids with Autism - How Yoga Can Benefit the Neurodiverse Child

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Shawnee Thornton Hardy

Shawnee Thornton Hardy is a C-IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist, E-RYT 500, RCYT, M.Ed, Educational/Behavior Specialist and the founder of Asanas for Autism and Special Needs and  Founder/Director of Yoga Therapy for Youth. She has worked with children and youth for over 20 years, specializing in...

Autism among children is becoming increasingly common; about 1 out of 40 children are now diagnosed with the condition. 

Experts disagree on what lies at the root of the increasing incidence of autism. The rapidly growing autism rates, however, emphasize the urgent need to find ways to better serve the needs of neurodiverse children. In the process, educators and researchers are exploring new ways to better serve the needs of kids with autism, including yoga.

In this free download, yoga therapist and behavioral specialist Shawnee Thornton describes her experience using yoga in her work with neurodiverse children, including those with autism and ADHD.

Common to kids with autism is that they process information differently and have different sensory experiences. This shows up as a hypersensitivity to the environment, which can leave kids on the spectrum in a constant fight or flight mode. 

The key to working with the neurodiverse child, Shawnee explains, is to help them develop the self-regulation skills they need to feel safe and prevent them from getting stuck in a constant stress response.

For many children, who are hypersensitive to the world around them, there’s a level of trauma to simply existing in their body in this world. Helping neurodiverse children learn how to feel safe in their own bodies and in the world around them is one of the most important tools yoga can offer, Shawnee notes.

“When we offer yoga tools to support children with self-regulation, we offer them a key to health and wellbeing,” Shawnee say. “We’re impacting mental, emotional, social, and physical wellbeing on all layers and all levels.” 

Shawnee further talks about the yoga-based tools she has created in offering yoga for neurodiverse children. These are tools that can be taken beyond childhood to help our young people live healthier, happier lives as they grow into adults. 

“Yoga is about self acceptance,” notes Shawnee. “It's about being who you are with however your brain functions or however your body functions and feeling valued as a person and knowing that you have purpose in the world. And I really see yoga impact the kids in that way. That's really been my driving force with sharing this work.”

You may also enjoy Shawnee's course, Yoga for Kids with Special Needs: Focus on Autism and ADHD.