Everybody is different. It’s a truism of course but often we tend to forget about it and measure others by our own qualities. Children with special needs require not only the attention but most of all, acknowledging their uniqueness. Empathy is the key. Answering properly these individual needs and supporting individual strengths is the next step which brings a chance of living one’s life fully according to his or her abilities.
Yoga therapy for children is a broad subject, hard to cover in one day of training. Instead of beating us with facts, Laura exposed us to an experience. To make us understand the scale of demand for yoga therapy, she asked us about our view on numbers and facts about children with special needs. We found out that some of our assumptions were far beyond the real scale of the problem (like puffed up ADHD) and some although less “fashionable” are real plague (social, emotional and personal issues).
Playing roles of children with special needs was another way to expand our awareness in the subject. We participated in a typical children’s yoga class, but each of us was given different kind of special needs to fulfill. It was about to show us, how challenging it can be on one hand, and how easily, as a teachers we can adapt the class to answer to those special needs. We were given techniques for teaching children with diverse special needs and then, right away (of course), each of us had to lead adapted class.
The drawing-machine gave me 6 to 8 years old children with Social and Emotional Difficulties. “Aha! Easy-peasy” I thought, as I could use my Mandala Painting Meditation for that purpose. The class went perfectly fine up to the point when one of my fellow students playing a role of emotionally abused child, started to draw “bad words” instead of butterflies and flowers… Thank you so much for that case study!
Luckily our performance was followed by detailed feedback as well as the rules and techniques for therapeutic yoga with children. We also adapted a given regular lesson plan to support and enhance the class for children with special needs which helped to organize and summarize all the knowledge and experience we gained throughout the day. I can tell you, it’s not easy to be in someone else’s shoes.