Allison Morgan and Jill Horbacewicz
We examined the effects of incorporating short breaks of breath, movement and mindfulness in the classroom with EDUCATE 2B (ED2B), on the motor development, social/emotional learning and behavior of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Twenty participants (18M, 2F) with ASD in grades 2-6 were recruited from 4 classrooms (2 classrooms made up the experimental group and 2 in the control group). Students in the experimental group were guided in 2-minute yoga/mindfulness activities from the ED2B program, 3 times a day. Social/Emotional competency and motor skill assessments were completed for all participants prior to program implementation and 11 weeks after implementation.
Motor skill findings:
There was no significant difference in pre-test scores between the control and experimental groups. There was a significant difference (p < 0.05) in the post-test scores between the control and experimental groups (control group showing a decline /experimental group showing no decline).
Social/Emotional competency findings:
There was no significant difference in pre-test scores between the control and experimental groups and no significant difference (p < 0.05) in the post-test scores between the control and experimental groups. However, when comparing the pre and post-test scores of the experimental group there was a significant difference (p < 0.05) in the scores of the experimental group with improvement noted from pre test to post test.
Findings suggest that incorporating a yoga and mindfulness program such as EDUCATE 2B into the classroom may benefit children with ASD as an effective and practical method for improving behavior and maintaining motor skill function.
Allison Morgan MA, OTR, E-RYT is a pediatric occupational therapist, and registered Yoga Alliance teacher working with children of all abilities for over 25 years in hospital, school and home settings. As the director of Zensational Kids, LLC, Allison has developed innovative programs for schools, guiding them in the sustainable integration of evidence-based, yoga and mindfulness into classrooms. She has been dedicated to supporting the overall well-being for entire school communities, developing strategies for easeful learning and the cultivation of life skills. Her national and international workshops and trainings have been recognized as a powerful tool to help parents, educators and therapists rekindle their own and their student’s innate curiosity, wisdom and desire to learn. Along with authoring her first children’s book, Wisdom Within, she developed EDUCATE 2B: Tools for Engaged Learning and Living. EDUCATE 2B supports educators in building a greater culture of self-awareness, emotional regulation, compassion, and empathy, in their classrooms while supporting diverse learners. Allison was a contributor to the Yoga Service Council’s White Book, Best Practices for Yoga in School. Allison is a facilitator for the nationally recognized, Radiant Child Yoga Program®, a consultant to the International Association for School Yoga and Mindfulness and sits on several advisory boards for programs and organizations involved in the education, care and well-being of youth.
Jill Horbacewicz PT, MA, PhD is a licensed Physical Therapist and the Chair of the Touro College Physical Therapy Department which is comprised of two entry level DPT programs, a post-professional DPT program, and an ABPTRFE accredited orthopedic residency program. Dr Horbacewicz was the inaugural recipient of the School of Health Sciences Leadership Award, and this year marks her 20th anniversary at Touro. She holds a BS in Physical Therapy and an MA in Pathokinesiology from New York University and her PhD in Health Sciences from Touro University International. Dr Horbacewicz is also a Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Educational Leadership Institute from its charter class. She earned a specialist certification in Orthopedics from the American Physical Therapy Association in 2000 and is a member of the Education Section of the American Physical Therapy Association.