According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 1 in 88 people suffer from an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). By now, it has been established that the symptoms of many children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome are alleviated by brief meditations. According to the World Health Organization, autism is a “disorder of neural development” and can take on very different forms. Some children show impaired social interaction and development, but exceptional talent or aptitude in other areas.
The diagnostic criteria are still controversial, and specifically the question of whether Asperger’s syndrome constitutes a subtype of autism or an independent disease, or whether Asperger’s in truth is just “regular” autism, is under discussion. The current status considers Asperger’s a “mild form” of autism – many children with Asperger’s can visit regular schools, for example, even if it means a lot of work for them and their parents (and teachers). For children diagnosed with autism, this is rarely the case.
Both, children with Asperger’s syndrome, as well as autistic children can concentrate very well on some things, but not on others. Therefore, it seems difficult to understand how they could meditate. Even to just sit still for a few minutes is usually quite taxing.
But in fact, many of the children enjoy meditation, if the initial units are short enough. They conjure an inner peace that is difficult to reach otherwise. At the same time, many of the patients suffering from painful muscle tension, experience improvement during meditation.
Physiotherapist Shelley Mannell reported:
“Stress-reduction techniques can definitely help children with autism lead happier and more functional lives.”
Over time, Mannell has found that some autistic children were afraid to close their eyes – so she just dims the light and creates a quiet, subdued environment. Objects or pictures in bright colors are put away and bookshelves and electrical appliances are covered with plain sheets.
Her conclusion: “Children are not resistant to meditation if a good match is made between technique and child.” Therefore, it is advisable to try different methods. Sonia Sequeira and Mahiuddin Ahmed state in their paper on “Meditation as a Potential Therapy for Autism”: “There is much to be gained by exploring meditation as a strategy to override impaired brain synchronicity and debilitating symptoms arising in early years of persons with autism.” They particularly recommend the Chanting Meditations.
For parents and caregivers, these findings are beneficial in more than one way. If you meditate together, it’s not only good for your child, but as experts have repeatedly pointed out, caregivers are especially vulnerable to stress and burnout – and one of the most effective methods of prevention is a regular meditation practice.
To support the point (and do some good), we are giving away five copies of “Kids’ Meditations For Primary School Age“ or “PM Meditations For Children”. All you have to do is leave a comment below this blog post + share the post on a network of your choice! The first five participants will each receive one of the ebooks.
Image: Guillaume Riesen via Stock.Xchng