I’ve been a speech language pathologist for over 30 years and have been practicing yoga for almost as much time. In fact, my mom has been practicing since I was a child and she still practices. She is 85 years old and still attends yoga classes twice a week; even with a torn rotator cuff. I really grew up understanding that there was something special about yoga. But I didn’t really know that there was a relationship between yoga and my professional practice as a speech pathologist until about 5 years ago, when a friend and I who have worked together for many years at an infant preschool had a conversation about the fish tank.
This is what happened with the fish tank. A parent donated a fish tank to the preschool. I was telling my friend that I when I would go get my kids for therapy, I would stop at the fish tank. I would pick them up from their classroom, stop at the fish tank, work on some spontaneous language and then we would go to my office and work on our speech goals. She said, “No. That’s not the reason why you stop at the fish tank.” I said, “Of course that’s the reason I stop at the fish tank,” and she said, “No.” She said, “You stopped at the fish tank because you were helping the child practice paying attention so that he or she would be ready for your session.” I stopped and thought about that and I said, “Certainly.” I wasn’t doing it consciously but maybe I was. That set me off on a path of studying the research on mindfulness and self-regulation which is what I am going to share with you today.
After this course, you will be able to define mindfulness and its application to learning readiness. You will describe at least one research article that provides empirical evidence for practice. You will describe how to teach at least one mindfulness practice to children.
Not Ready, Not Steady for Therapy
Let’s start with not ready, not steady for therapy. Who are these kids? I’d like you to take a few moments to jot down why our kids are not ready to learn. Think about it from the cognitive perspective, what’s going on? Think about it from the emotional perspective. What is going on for them socially? Why are some kids not ready to learn sensorily? We are not only thinking about kids who have a diagnosis or a disability but certainly kids may not be ready to learn maturationally or situationally.
In terms of cognition, we are referring to attention. These kids are not ready because they’re not paying attention. They are distracted. We are also referring to impulsivity. These are kids who cannot inhibit or cannot choose to not speak or not act up in their chairs. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may be also come into play. The distractibility could be ADD but the impulsivity could be the ADHD part. There are other reasons why children may not be ready to learn such as not remembering the rules of therapy, being disorganized, not understanding the task or having poor language processing. A child may be inflexible. For example, having therapy in a room the child is not used to can really throw them off.