By Shakta Khalsa
This we know; there are countless challenges that arise in living with children with autism. Sometimes it seems our lives revolve around them, and we have almost no time to even take a deep and centered breath. So right now, let’s stop for a moment and take that life-giving deep breath into our bodies. Let the breath circulate within you for a second or two. Then blow it out slowly and deliberately, allowing a new thought, a new feeling to rise up within.
And now…Let’s apply that new idea, that new feeling to our relationship with autistic children.
Have you ever noticed that there are some pretty amazing everyday gifts that naturally accompany children with autism? One way to know what those gifts are is to open ourselves to the idea of following the child. In following, we have the opportunity to view the world in a different way than we had before. Magical things can happen when we are willing to uncover the buried treasure in our relationship with our children.
Knowing, or at least, believing, that imagining is a first step in creating a new reality, is a good start. Imagine that your child has invited you to go on a treasure hunt. She is standing in front of you now, holding a piece of paper. You open the paper and read the first clue:
What does my child like to do?
Let’s say that you notice your child is rocking back and forth. You observe that she does this to self-soothe, so something about it must be comforting.
As you notice the behavior with curiosity and without judgment, you are now ready for the second clue:
How can I help my child be fulfilled in a way that is joyful, and that we might possibly experience together?
In our example of rocking for comfort, parent and child can do a yoga rocking exercise together. A great one is “Boulder Roll,” which is done by lying on the back with knees tucked into the chest. Begin rolling around on the floor both up and down and side to side. End on the back with a deep breath in, hold a few seconds, and exhale slowly through the mouth with, “Ahhh!”
Within this space of relaxation, you come to the third and final clue:
Do I see how I am beginning to think creatively and spontaneously with my child? Do I understand that I can let go of the “diagnosis” for now, and simply appreciate being with my child, just as he is?
After rocking and breathing, let yourself just be present to your child. Simply let him lead the way into the next part of your day.
And ask yourself, “How would our lives change if I took time each day to simply follow the clues that my child is showing me? What treasures are there, waiting to to be unwrapped by my calm and happy heart?
Shakta Khalsa is a leading expert on children and yoga, having worked with both since the mid1970s. She is a parent, Montessori educator, and a yoga professional recognized by Yoga Journal magazine as one of the top five Kundalini Yoga teachers in the world. She is considered to be the “Grandmother of the Children’s Yoga Movement.”
Shakta is the Founder and Director of Radiant Child® Yoga, established in 1999, an internationally known training program for teaching children yoga and working with/raising children consciously. She has personally taught children’s yoga to over 10,000 teachers, parents, and therapists. Additionally, Shakta has trained twenty + trainers around the world, which brings the number of people trained in RCY to 50,000+.
She has authored six well-known yoga books, including the classic Fly Like a Butterfly: Yoga for Children. Her latest book is on authentic relationships with children titled The Yoga Way to Radiance: How to Follow your Inner Guidance and Nurture Children to do the Same, published by Llewellyn Publications, 2016.