I am passionate about bringing mindfulness into my class for children with autism because, as their teacher, I’ve seen how difficult it is in managing anxiety and the stress that impacts the kids’ learning, self esteem and social interactions. There’s a lot of research now showing that mindfulness training can actually help to rewire the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex, which helps with executive function. This is a significant problematic area for my students.
Executive function is the ability to manage or regulate our emotions, body, impulsivity and organizational skills. Basically it is the ability to self regulate. It includes the ability to-
Based on my experience these are tough areas for my students.
The direct lessons and daily practice help many students develop a set of skills and increase self awareness. It has also helped them access the lessons & listen to each other. They report feeling calmer & more focussed for longer periods of time. They recognize when they feel anxious, confused, angry etc. more frequently.
PRACTICE is the key word.
I see children pausing, slowly breathing independently or with a prompt much more often. I listen to their daily noting after the bell and witness increase self awareness of their emotions and thoughts. Their ability to share what they noticed without reacting (a thought, emotion or sensation) as they practiced sitting in their mountain bodies keeping their attention on the bell is impressive. Often they share they could let the thoughts, feelings or sensations pass and return to the bell. But they also notice when they follow and get lost in them.
This is self awareness and regulation practice.
Practice is the keyword.
For me as well. I too practice with them and maintain my personal daily practice. I practice daily before school and often as I walk to the office or staff room if the day has been difficult and I feel keyed up or anxious. This helps me stay mindful, calm, present and regulated myself. Being there with the students in the present moment.
These children can be challenging and difficult to teach. I can pause, hold the stillness and respond not react more frequently now. What I bring into the class is critical for how the day can go often. If I can model a calmness in the stress they are experiencing they benefit from this.
As do I.
They can count on me to remain calm as their stress/anxiety visits them again.
Welcome to my classroom!
I am passionate, a little bit quirky ( some may say a little bit more) and dedicated to serving children with Autism. These young people have touched me deeply and have made me a better teacher & hopefully person. I want to share what I have learned that allows these beautiful children to grow & sometimes thrive in my class.