A few moons ago I went to Bikrams yoga for 2 years with my friend over at Autism Service Provider and Beyond. I remember one day another friend asking, “Did you go to yoga today?” She went on to say that I was extraordinarily calm. It interests me when I learn something about myself and then I am able to apply it in my practice with my kids. Currently, I am at home working out in the mornings and loving it. I recently came across P90X and have really been enjoying the Stretch video. What I love is the incorporation of stretching and yoga poses in the warm up routines within the series or workouts. And, do you want to know what the recurring reminder is? Breathe!
So, why talk about yoga in a speech blog post? Well, do you remember me commenting on the kids that run laps around the house without checking in or very little notice to my presence? ( Low Tone: It is not just a speech thing.) If your child cannot focus on a task, is constantly on the go, or prefers to play alone with a preferred object, then we need to think about pulling that child into our space. Encourage the child to have the same idea as us. Maybe the child even holds their breath!
I was at a training last year led by Patricia Oetter and Eileen Richter called M.O.R.E. during which they had each participant lay on their backs and had another participant watch the rise and fall during breathing. Some persons were more belly breathers, some chest breathers, and some utilized both. Of course, I had to go home and try this out on several of my kiddos. Guess what? I had some breath holders. Holding their breath! No wonder one of my kids at the time did not have the ability to produce intelligible 2-3 word phrases. I also had a child that was so anxious he was not taking any deep breaths.
Our kids that do not have this capability may be struggling to produce a sound. Some of our kids need to move. Some of our kids need work on their ribcage. We might need a Physical Therapy consult to think about the trunk and any type of support, movement, or exercises that may be useful.
Back to yoga and breathing. If you are holding your breath it is more challenging to access your breath support for speech purposes. I am a believer that we need to be on the floor with many of our kids. Provide movement opportunities, think about trunk strength and mobility as suggested by a PT. Become friends with your OTs and PTs. Here is an article on the benefits of yoga for kids as well. And here is another article from a speech pathologist perspective.
A few years ago I saw one child who was constantly on the go. I remember playing the egg and spoon race relay game with him and something completely shifted in his attention. He was calm and able to participate in some structured tasks after playing this game with me. We merely walked back and forth careful not to drop the egg. The experience and the game reminded me of yoga and being focused on my breath and the moment followed by a calmer spirit.
Why else think about yoga? Once again, downward dog is providing input into the hands, the shoulders, the feet. And, when you crawl in this position you are building upper body strength. The crab position provides input and works on core strength. I am a fan of an app called Super Stretch Yoga. It provides an animated picture and then other children doing each movement (and it is free!). Many of my kids love it. Of course, we can build in language too! If the child enjoys the app, before he/she can touch the next animal to request more, he/she has to sign “more”; say “more”; imitate the name of the animal; answer “What is this?”; or for a child who is talking verbalize “I want monkey”.
The reality is, if I could physically make a child talk I would. Besides, in my experience kids often are more apt to imitate a fine or gross motor movement first, before a speech or an oral motor movement. Sometimes we need strategies that improve body awareness and breath support to enhance and/or to encourage speech. And, the biggie! If the child is motivated the child is more apt to do something that is challenging.
Pull out your whistles and party favors. These are my favorite from Party City! Why? They come in primary colors so we can have the child sign “blue”; imitate the word “blue”; or possibly reach for “blue” when you ask “Where is blue?” while holding up two party favors. These party favors are made out of foil whereas most are made of paper. You know what happens when you mix saliva and paper, right? It is a very short-lived experience and you need another. And, the foil portion moves with very little breath required. Meaning, for our kids that have not learned to blow, it is made easier for teaching the skill.
I am also a fan of When My Worries Get Too Big for some of our older kids. This book talks about recognizing where we are at in terms of frustration and anger and incorporating some strategies. For example: Breathing! The same goes for another app for kids called Breathe Think Do with Sesame (Another freebie!). This little Sesame Street monster makes me giggle when I use it with my kids. Once again, the app incorporates the thought process of Breathe, then Think, and then Do.
That concludes this week’s post and ramblings from me this week. Be sure to check out the resource links for more suggestions and strategies. Thank you for reading my post and if you would like to receive the weekly post via email here is how…