Tips for Working with Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Working with kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders is my passion & area of expertise as a Speech-Language Pathologist. I have had several folks contact me recently via Facebook and e-mail asking for a few tips.

The most important thing when working with kids, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorders or any other special needs, is to get info about the kids and get to know them as individuals. I have been a SLP for 22 years and have worked with hundreds of kids with ASD ranging from infants (pre-diagnosis) to 21 years of age….. and the saying is definitely true “when you have met one person with Autism, you have met ONE person with Autism”. Every child is a unique individual….. like each of us is a unique individual. But there are also some general things that are helpful to know if you are considering working with kids with ASD so here are a few general tips:

* use visual supports (see several posts:

* have a predictable routine.

* be mindful of the sensory issues of each individual child (many are easily overstimulated by smells, lights, extra props, music, noises, etc…). Be mindful of this when picking yoga mats to use. Avoid ones with a strong odor, over-stimulating colors and/or distracting designs or patterns. Kids with ASD can take things very literally so if you have a yoga mat with a certain animal or pose on it they may think that is the only pose they can do on that mat. Non-toxic, eco-friendly yoga mats in solid, calming shades of blues & greens are my typical recommendation. There is actually some research about kids with special needs reactions to certain colors and many individuals with ASD were drawn to blues & greens and I have found this to be true in my personal practice as well.

* be aware that many individuals with ASD have difficulty making and maintaining eye contact. Many teens and adults with ASD have described eye contact as an overwhelming and sometimes painful sensory experience. Many have also described that eye contact can be so overwhelming that to look and listen at the same time is too much sensory information. In my work as a SLP, I have found it helpful to teach kids how to “approximate” eye contact by periodically looking at something in the facial region (ex: eyebrows, nose, chin, rim of eye glasses) of the conversational partner as a way to be socially engaging while still respecting their own sensory needs. I have seen way too many kids with ASD in my career where direct, unatural eye contact was overemphasized and the results are not usually good.

* don’t be too quick to judge whether or not a child with ASD is “enjoying” yoga or any other activity….. I have seen many kids initially be resistant or ambivalent to yoga and other activities end up loving it when given the opportunity to experience it on their own terms & at their own pace.

* be mindful of group dynamics & group size… many kids with ASD are overwhelmed in large groups.

* be mindful of the sensory aspects of the poses and breathing activities. Kids with ASD often have very significant Sensory Processing problems and can be very sensitive to poses that require balance or inversion. In general, poses that provide “flexion” tend to be calming, poses that provide “extension” tend to be alerting & energizing and poses that use both sides of the body and/or cross midline tend to promote focusing.

* many kids with ASD have “high interest” areas….. with some kids these make good theme choices to get them interested.

* many kids with ASD have poor motor planning skills and auditory processing problems so you may need to modify/simplify poses and use very simple instructions (one step at a time). You may need to wait a few seconds to allow the child to process verbal information. It is also helpful to provide a consistent cue before giving instructions and pairing verbal instructions with simple sign language/gestures and visual supports.

* always ask the child’s permission before touching or offering help with a pose & get info ahead of time about how that child reacts to touch. As a general rule of thumb more of them tolerate deep/firm pressure better than light touch…. but this can vary greatly from child to child.

Here is a link to a presentation I did at the Oklahoma Autism Conference: It includes links to lots of great resources, video clips and research articles.

And a post I did about inclusion:

There are lots of great folks out there doing adapted yoga for kids with ASD. Here are links to a few of my faves:


Bodylogique:, blog: Check out the interview Barbara did last April: She also did a webinar “Yoga for Children with Autism” earlier this month with Donna Freeman at Yoga In My School (available for purchase:


ZensationalKids:  is a licensed occupational therapist, a Registered Yoga Teacher and is a trainer with Radiant Child Yoga. She co-teaches their specialty course “Yoga for Differently-Abled Children: Working With ADHD, Autism and Sensory Processing Issues”. 


S.T.O.P. and Relax:


A great post on the Spirit of Autism blog:


A great book isYoga Therapy for Every Special Child – Meeting Needs in a Natural Setting” by Nancy Williams. It’s a “must-have” for anyone doing adapted or therapeutic yoga. Nancy is a Speech-Language Pathologist &  Registered Yoga Teacher.

Hope this helps!

You can also reach me at if you ever want to chat via e-mail 🙂

Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, IAYT, RCYP-2

Speech-Language Pathologist

Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness activities for kids of all abilities

Radiant Child Yoga Certified – Levels 1 & 2






NOTE: Please ignore any ads that appear below the wavy divider bar. This is a free blog site & I have no control over ads appearing here.

Universal Design for Inclusive Kids Yoga: Inclusion is Belonging

I have had this on my heart to share for a while and decided that today would be a good day as we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Inclusion & Universal Design

Inclusive programs create accepting environments and send a powerful message that all children are welcomed and valued.

When inclusive practices are fully embraced, we provide all children with an authentic sense of belonging.

Materials and programs that are developed with “universal design” concepts are designed from the beginning to be flexible enough to accommodate the unique needs of a wide range of individuals, including those with and without disabilities.

The intent of “universal design” is to simplify life for everyone by making products and programs usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities. Have you ever used automatic doors or “curb cut” ramps? Then you have benefitted from universal design.

Inclusion is Belonging

Here’s my dream: Let’s use the concept of “universal design” as we develop and implement yoga programs and materials for kids and youth. What simple modifications can we make to be inclusive and supportive of kids and youth of all abilities and needs in our classes? Can we add visual supports? Simplify instructions? Modify poses for specific physical and/or sensory needs?

Before offering “separate” classes or creating “separate” materials for kids & youth with special needs, consider what could be done to support inclusion in what is already available.

Ok….. I’m not Pollyanna. I know that inclusion may take more thought and planning. Inclusion may be uncomfortable the first time you are faced with how to handle a challenging behavior. And there may some situations where it would not be safe for a particular child to be included at that point in time (ex: due to extremely aggressive behaviors). But based on my 21 years experience working with kids of all ages (0-21 years) & a wide variety of special needs, it is pretty rare to have a child with that extreme of a behavioral issue unless you are working in a program/setting specifically designed for those intense needs.

  • Who better to “be the change we want to see in the world” than those of us doing yoga with kids & youth?
  • Where better to truly teach the concept of inclusion than in yoga programs for kids & youth?

Need help knowing how to take steps towards inclusion? One great resource would be to collaborate with folks who are passionate about inclusion in your own community. Look for a teacher, a parent of a child with special needs, a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, social worker, etc… who shares your passion for inclusion.

And I’m here to brainstorm ideas via my OMazing Kids Yoga Facebook page….. The reason I established it was as a means to promote inclusive yoga for kids & teens of all abilities…. So I’d love to help!

Here are some great online resources for inclusion:

Supporting Inclusion for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Community Programs

Supporting Social Emotional Needs

Supporting Children with Developmental Disabilities

Visual Support Video Series: How to Use Pictures to Enhance Activities

Visual Support Video Series: How to Use Picture and Object Schedules

Defining expectations: How to Teach Children What is Expected of Them

Sensory support: How to Accommodate Children Who Are Over or Under-Sensitive


My goal in providing these thoughts & resources is to inspire and support inclusion. Namaste! 🙂


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, IAYT, RCYP-2

Speech-Language Pathologist

Founder of OMazing Kids Yoga, LLC – inclusive yoga for kids & teens of all abilities in Norman, Oklahoma

Radiant Child Yoga Certified – Levels 1 & 2





NOTE: Please ignore any ads that appear below the wavy divider bar. This is a free blog site & I have no control over ads appearing here.


OMazing Kids Yoga – Therapeutic Yoga For Kids and Teens with Autism (handouts & links for presentation at the Oklahoma Autism Conference 11-19-11)

Here are links to my presentation & handouts for “OMazing Kids Yoga – Therapeutic Yoga For Kids and Teens with Autism” at the Oklahoma Autism Conference 11-19-11 –

About 60-65 folks (parents, teachers, OT’s, SLP’s, PT’s, psychologists, behavior therapists, music therapist, etc.) attended my presentation at the Oklahoma Autism Conference! It was SO fun to share my passion for kids yoga and give away all the great products 🙂

 Need visual supports for yoga groups? Here are a few to try out: yoga breathing visual support (flower and candle), Social Story “Good Behavior in Yoga Group” with picture symbols, Peace Tree – guided visualization.

Want a few quick facts about the attendees & door prizes?  conference attendee & door prize quick facts & map (1 page PDF)

Special “thanks” to the following 35 companies that donated a total of 163 kids yoga & relaxation products with a total retail value of over $2,500 that were given away as door prizes to folks who attended my presentation:

ABC’s of Yoga for Kids –

Addriya™ –

Adventures of Super Stretch™ –

Alma Yoga (Alma Largey) –

Asana Alphabet –

BodyLogique Adaptive Movement Education® –

Budding Yogis  –

Color Me Yoga –

Elahi Yoga  –

GreenTREE Yoga® –

Grounded Yoga –

Karma Kids Yoga –

Kidding Around Yoga –

Little Lotus Kids Yoga Cards –

Mosabee™ Your Yoga Routine – Eco Friendly Yoga Mat –

Move With Me™ Action Adventures   –

Musical Yoga Adventures –

My First Yoga™ –

Namaste Kid   –

Next Generation Yoga®  –

Playful Planet™  –

Radiant Child® Yoga –

Shanti Generation  –

S.T.O.P. and Relax©   –

Storytime Yoga™ –

Stress Free Kids® –

Super Duper® Publications –

Yoga 4 Classrooms™  –

YogaBuddies™ –

Yoga Calm For Children –

Yoga In My School –

Yoga Therapy for Every Special Child –

Yoga -Yingo®-

Yogiños: Yoga for Youth®  –

Young Yoga Masters –

If you want details about what each company donated & links to where to purchase those items, see the individual “thank you” posts I did on the OMazing Kids Yoga Facebook page each day in the week leading up to the conference:

I was glad I had taken the time to read/watch/review all the products before giving them away (I watched the last DVD as I was getting ready that morning!). This allowed me to give each participant a couple of items to best fit their needs based on age of the kids, their role, the setting, etc…. 🙂

NOTE:  Please ignore any ads that appear below the blue divider bar. This is a free blog site & I have no control over ads appearing here.

Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, IAYT, RCYP-2
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids Yoga, LLC – inclusive yoga for kids & teens of all abilities in Norman, Oklahoma
Radiant Child Yoga Certified – Levels 1 & 2