Yoga Practice Among Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Exploring the Effect on Social Behaviors in Classroom.

Poster Presentation
Friday, May 3, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
M. J. Beaudoin1, N. Poirier2 and A. Leroux-Boudreault3, (1)Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada, (2)Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada, (3)Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, PQ, Canada

Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may present some difficulties that can be explain by a diagnosis associated with there condition (ex: anxiety disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood disorder) (Simonoff and al., 2008). The percentage estimates of adolescents with ASD meeting the diagnosis criteria of ADHD is about 28% (Simonoff and al., 2008). New avenues are explored to help adolescents with ASD deal with there difficulties, such as yoga therapy, that had demonstrated it efficacity among children with ASD (Kenny, 2002; Koenig and al., 2012; Rosenblatt and al., 2011).


The aim of this study is to explore the efficacity of yoga practice on social behaviors of high school students with ASD.


Two groups of six students (n=12) with ASD in two special classrooms frequenting an ordinary Montreal high school, their teachers and the classroom special educator participated to one yoga session per week for 8 weeks. The yoga sessions were animated by a yoga teacher certificated in yoga therapy. Before and after each session, an observation of the student’s social behaviors was made. The social behavior referred to the attentive response of the students to a task that the teacher was asking them to do in the classroom. The students evaluated their difficulties with the Behavior Assessment System for Children, second edition, self-reported questionnaire (BASC-2).


The results indicate that 48 % of the student perceived that they present attention problems. Non-parametric analyses indicate that the social behavior frequencies of those students are significantly higher after the yoga sessions compared to before the yoga sessions, p < .05. Of all the students that have participated, 52 % do not report presenting attention problems. For those students, there social behavior frequencies after yoga sessions are significantly higher then before yoga sessions, p < .05.


These findings indicate that yoga can be an effective practice among adolescents with ASD. The effect of the yoga was shown regardless of the attention difficulties perceived by the participants. The results of this study support the findings of Kenny (2002), Koenig and collaborators (2012) as well as Rosenblatt and collaborators (2011) by demonstrating that yoga is a practice that can help improving social behaviors of adolescents with ASD. This research show that integrated yoga sessions in school setting can be an effective way to reinforce the concentration of the students when doing an academic task. Next steps would be to increase the participants and to add a measurement of anxiety before and after the yoga sessions.