School-Wide Integration of Yoga into the Curriculum for Preschoolers with Autism

Recently the Mailman Segal Center at Nova Southeastern University received a grant from Autism Speaks, to implement a proposal to incorporate yoga into the curriculum at the Baudhuin Preschool. Located in Davie, Florida on the main campus of the university, the Baudhuin Preschool is an internationally recognized, model program for children with autism spectrum disorders.

S.T.O.P. and Relax is the curriculum being adopted for the yoga program. The mission is to prepare the entire staff to understand and implement the curriculum, and to provide information, workshops, and resources for the children’s families, as well. In response, we have been working with Nancy Lieberman, Director of Baudhuin Preschool, to develop a training approach to fit the setting and schedule.

The participating staff include teachers, aides, speech/language pathologists, occupational therapists, autism specialists, a behavior analyst, exceptional student education specialist, family counselor, and school administrators. Quite a large and wonderful group!

To fit the staff schedule, we have divided a comprehensive training plan into modules. Modules that are two hours in length are slated for Early Release Days. These are days already integrated into the school calendar, wherein students are dismissed after half a day to give staff time for intensive work. Modules that are one hour in length are slated for periodic after-school workshops, during the time staff remain after students are dismissed on regular school days. The modules are spaced about two weeks apart, providing time for staff to read and review curriculum materials.

This stage of training was initiated in December and will be running into March. The next stage will involve direct mentoring in classrooms and a workshop for families.

I expect that if you are reading this, you’d like to know more about the content of the modules. Look to my upcoming posts!

About Dr. Debra Collins

Dr.Debra Collins is a licensed psychologist, a licensed and nationally certified school psychologist, and a registered yoga teacher. Debra's collaboration on the S.T.O.P. and Relax© program was inspired by her work with children with autism spectrum disorders.

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