In 2010 Lucy participated in a unique pilot study sponsored by Saint Francis Hospital and the Benson Henry Institute, which is affiliated with Harvard University and Mass General Hospital in Boston. Lucy designed and facilitated an 8 week free yoga and movement class for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The program was designed to best engage the unique sensory features of patients with an ASD and to use yoga, dance and breathing techniques to elicit a relaxation response.
The results of the pilot study suggested that a program combining yoga, dance and music had positive impact on behavioral symptoms and some of the core features of Autism Spectrum Disorder. To read the full results of this pilot, please click this link for the subsequent article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Lucy continues to teach Yoga Movement Therapy™ classes specifically for children 3-18 years old affected by ASD and other special needs. To adapt yoga instruction for classes with both ASD and neurotypical children, she complements verbal instructions with easily understandable pictures and examples. She uses tools such as pinwheels, bubbles and beanie babies to help children experience their breath. And she combines yoga with free and guided dance movements set to music, to enhance body awareness and add to the fun. Through the use of imitation during the dance segments, she elicits non-verbal communication and increased social interaction. In the class, competition is de-emphasized and children are given encouragement for whatever they are able to do.
Lucy’s work with children and families in the Autism community continues to inspire her every day. Neurotypical siblings, parents and caretakers are encouraged to participate alongside their family members with ASD, making for a healthy and fun family activity. If you would like to be notified of upcoming classes for children with ASD, please sign up for the Yoga Movement Therapy mailing list. If you’d like to talk more about adapting the class to your child’s needs, please contact Lucy with any questions.