I was thrilled to find research published in the Sept./Oct. 2012 AJOT from my former NYU professor (Kristie Patten Koenig), teaching assistant (Satvika Garg) and guest lecturer (Anne Buckley-Reen).
The article was The Efficacy of The Get Ready to Learn Program amongst Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pretest-Posttest Control Group Design.
According to the article, The Get Ready to Learn program is a daily classroom-based preparatory yoga curriculum that uses breathing exercises, yoga postures, chanting and relaxation techniques to enhance the functional and academic performance of students with a variety of disabilities.
We performed snippets of this program in our OT class during a guest lecture and I recall it being a fun time! It just makes so much sense that after the chaos of getting to school, kiddos could use some time to transition to a calm, yet alert, state that is more conducive to learning. How much more appropriate is a transition time for kids on the autistic spectrum, and other kids with special needs, who often demonstrate difficulty with self-regulation? Yoga is a great fit for meeting this need because it promotes a mind-body connection and utilizes visual learning and visual modeling.
The best part about this program is that, according to the outcomes of this article, the program works! Over a 16 week period the participants displayed significantly less maladaptive behaviors (irritability, lethargy, social withdraw, hyperactivity and non compliance.)
Below is a video from some classrooms in the UK that have been utlilzing the program with very positive results.