In August of this year, Boo began taking Yoga for the Special Child. This program was created by Sonia Sumar, a mother of a Down Syndrome child. Devotees of the program insist that, as with adults, Yoga allows the child mechanisms to relax and center themselves and has additional health benefits. The biggest health benefit for Boo will be muscle tone. Her GI specialist believes most of Boo's consitipation/diarrhea issues is due to poor muscle tone. Yoga has been said to allievate some of her symptoms. (not 100% certain that there is a information to back it up this claim!)
For Boo, we have not seen much progress. I think. "J" her yoga instructor feels differently. She says every week Boo allows her to do a little more yoga. Out of the 30 minute session, I think we are up to maybe 7 minutes of yoga and 23 minutes of chasing her around the room trying to get her to sit on the mat.
But the first week, she probably chased Boo for 29 minutes so progress.
"J" was telling me how different her experience is with Boo in comparison with Down Syndrome children (her child included). In her experience, her students have been mellow and while they couldn't hold the pose they allowed "J" to work the pose on them and stretch them into position by providing support.
Boo is a different story. Boo doesn't sit quietly or on command. Nor does she understand what is expected of her. She would rather explore the room. Now this is a huge milestone, honestly. Boo used to just sit and observe. But during the Yoga session, there are moments--brief moments--when Boo is attentive to "J". (hey I take my milestones where I can get them)
There are more moments, now, when Boo is not only attentive but engaged. Boo may not perform the pose, but once in a while she allows "J" to work the pose on her. And because of "J" experience, when Boo has her meltdown "J" is patient and kind and tried to get her back in focus.
I swear the biggest benefit of Yoga for the Special Child is what I have received from it. I have met a great woman with 8 years experience of having a special needs child. With Down Syndrome she has a network of support available to her and her family. As an undiagnosed enigma I am usually drowning in unchartered waters. My meeting "J" and enrolling Boo in her class I have been able to tap into a new resource. One in which I can take what works for her child and try to adapt it for Boo.
Not only do I receive ideas from "J", I have found a compatriot in the process of therapies, schools & teachers (our children attend the same school system). For example, "J" did not know that where we go for our SPT/OT/PT also offers pool therapy at their sister facility. I did not know that there was a therapuetic horse program in the next town over.
I learn something everyday with Boo. One of the most important things I have learned is that you can have 14 doctors, 10 therapists, 4 school teachers and 5 different aides. But without another special needs parent to learn from you are doomed.
To find a Yogi in your area or to learn more about this program please visit: http://www.specialyoga.org/
And don't forget...October is Down Syndrome Awareness month!