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October 12, 2012

Childhood Obesity and Autism… Oh, MY!

Barring any glandular problems, solving this major “issue”, whose stats have tripled in the last 30 years, isn’t as challenging as most people think.

Back in my day, watching television was a treat. Chores had to be done, and I had to entertain myself outside before I was even permitted to plop my hindparts on the sofa and veg out on whatever was happening on the boob tube. I was also only permitted an hour or two, if that.

But times have changed…

My prince is now 11 years old, over 5’2″, and about 53 kg. I’ve watched him morph into quite the remarkable young man, and I’ve also watched him become more and more inactive, or sedentary. He doesn’t like to sweat, and he would rather be engaged in one of his PBS Kids games, or train videos than exercise because exerting himself simply is not something he is open to doing… ever.

He is not alone.

Computer games, video games, and television… are usually the preferred roads our children travel because they’re activities that can be enjoyed alone… and the level of exertion is minimal.

So, what’s a parent to do?

Well, there is one physical activity that my son has enjoyed, and it doesn’t require him to sweat too much… for now. It’s yoga, and the benefits for a person with Autism can be amazing.

Here’s what Yoga Journal had to say about why this practice is worth giving a try…

According to advocates, the simple instructions offered in yoga classes help students with skills like eye contact and imitation (they watch the teacher raise a hand or lift a leg and then learn to repeat that same action), and the environment is conducive to improving socialization. But of course, the way that yoga reduces anxiety, which can be debilitating for those with autism, is the most profound. By centering the body and paying attention to the breath, children and teens report that they feel more in control and calm.

When my son is overwhelmed, it can take him quite some time to calm himself and let the emotion go. Although, he is not violate when he is upset, the tears do flow like a river gone wild and his speech becomes more challenging to understand. Watching him move through these moments can be heart-wrenching because I just want to make things “all better”.

Now I know I’m not always going to be in this physical world, which is why I want him to have something that will help him with being more interactive with life. Because interacting with the outside world right now… causes him anxiety.

Yoga, as a daily practice, may prove to be the “magic pill” to offset his typical reaction to his visits down the rabbit hole…

For individuals with different abilities, it can help them connect more deeply with their bodies as well as be more consciously focused on the ebb and flow of the breath… the life force that sustains us. The instructions are often easy to understand, and so are the poses. Yoga can also offer an incredible sense of centeredness and grounding. And for someone who likes to be in their own internal world,  it is a great motivator to help them be more connected to the world outside their beautiful minds.

Yoga Pros

  • Children may experience deeper and prolonged periods of relaxation/more restful sleep.
  • Children may experience greater focus, which can offer marked improvement in their studies.
  • Children may experience an increased ability to self-regulate when anxious or stressed.
  • Children may experience improvement in communication and socialization due to increased body awareness and greater brain-body connectivity.
  • Children may experience greater flexibility, coordination, and improved motor skills.
  • Children may experience weight loss due to the various poses and different types of yoga disciplines.

So, it looks like we’re going to get our “Ommmm, Shanti!” on, and see where this road takes us. I have no doubt that we’ll both be healthier and more happier in the end!

{What are you doing for your loved ones on the Spectrum to help them live a healthier lifestyle? Share your comments below…}

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