Yoga for Autism, ADD, ADHD

Question

Hello

My question is more about the kids/ adults and their families — struggling with ADD , ADHD and Autisim , why are they afflicted with this and how can we help them lead a independent life — what aspects of yoga and meditation can help them? Why don’t we see any programs for these individuals.

Thank you

—Radha, Usa

Answer

Dear Friend,

It seems so hurtful that children should be so afflicted. In some ways, our entire world is afflicted with aspects of ADD, ADHD, and Autism. I think the birth of children with these challenges reflects the karma and consciousness of humanity at this time. It is, I believe, helpful then to see these challenges as extensions of our culture’s consciousness at this time in history (rather than as only pathological).

But with or without social or governmental aid, it is important to relate to these children sensitively: enough to give them the extra attention or patience needed to help them relate to the world around them, but not so much that they view themselves as a victim or as someone who will always be different, separate and even unaccepted in society.

No matter what the official diagnosis is, each child (person) manifests that diagnosis uniquely. It is also important to not generalize too much and, worse, even to encourage a child to act out the expectations that surround the general diagnosis.

Yoga postures, especially, would be helpful. Meditation is already more difficult for children to begin with and if staying focused is a particular issue, meditation is not going to be as helpful as can the movement that hatha yoga poses provide. This reply isn’t able to offer an entire yoga routine but children seem to enjoy the poses when, instead of Sanskrit or anatomical names, the postures have the names of animals. Many books are written offering yoga for children and I wouldn’t think much, if any, adaptation would be needed beyond a patient and individualized application.

A teen or even preteen might benefit from tasks and activities that encourage focused attention (say, making things, arts and craft, etc.) and some might do well with a guided visualization but, again, meditation with closed eyes may be too much for many. Okay?

Blessings and joy to you!
Nayaswami Hriman

Seattle WA