November 15, 2023
In 2008, TSBVI published the book Better Together: Building Relationships with People who have Visual Impairment and Autism Spectrum Disorder (or Atypical Social Development) written by Linda Hagood. Linda served many roles at TSBVI across multiple departments and as a speech/language pathologist she developed a yoga program on campus. Yoga instruction at TSBVI continues in Comprehensive, Residential, and Short Term Programs. This Media Minute will feature photos and videos of those lessons as well as resources from the Curriculum and Outreach Departments.
Some students who engage in the yoga routines have complex needs and are very reluctant to use their hands – sometimes keeping them in their ears or in their mouths. Through movements, songs, and trust, yoga can help students reach their arms into the air and out into the space around their bodies! The practice of yoga can increase students’ motor development by improving body, spatial, and proprioceptive awareness. In 2010, several TSBVI staff were trained by Shakta Kaur Khalsa in Radiant Child Yoga. G’Nell Price, Assistant Principal, went to a week-long program with Shakta to get further trained on sensory integration, autism, and yoga. Heidi Anderson, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, attended a three day workshop on Radiant Child Yoga with Shakta and shared, “It has turned out to be such a fun program for our students! The songs are based on a school of yoga (Kundalini) that incorporates music, chanting and repetition all of which our students enjoy. We have made many symbols for the different songs so that we can work with Speech, as well as Occupational and Physical Therapy on the movement and sensory aspects of the class.”
Yoga is infused into all Short Term Programs (STP) classes and are led by Phoebe Williams, long-time STP staff member. STP uses the TSBVI publication Yoga For Children with Visual and Multiple Impairments: Fun Movement Activities Inspired by Yoga by Kassy Maloney. Phoebe (who has been practicing yoga all her life) shared, “Since I have such a passion for yoga and a desire to share it with our students, when the yoga curriculum was published through TSBVI and with Sara Merritt’s support, we were able to start the yoga program for STP students. It is a highlight in my life and one of the things I truly cherish about my work experience. The best part is sharing in the students’ growth in the practice and helping bring awareness to the connection of the body, mind and breath.”
The TSBVI Residential Department leads yoga activities in the evening across multiple settings. Yoga also did not stop when students were social distancing and learning remotely during the 2020-2021 school year but was adapted for Zoom instruction or by going outdoors. Laura Wofford, Assistant Residential Director, says, “Thank you to all the Residential staff who incorporate yoga into their students’ evening activities. It is such a wonderful way to help students connect with others, relax, and have fun!”
During the 2016-2017 school year, Kassy Maloney presented a three-part webinar series for the Outreach Department on Yoga and we have those videos close-captioned along with handouts available in the Professional Development Library on our website (scroll down to locate the resources from September and December 2016 and February 2017). Kassy also wrote the article “What Is Yoga and How Can It Benefit My Child with a Visual Impairment?” for the Outreach publication, Texas SenseAbilities in Fall 2017.
Check out this video of a student doing a yoga routine to “Shake and Move Children’s Song” by Patty Shukla.
Check out this video of a student and staff participating in a yoga routine with modeling, American Sign Language, picture, and pacing support.
For more on yoga written by Linda Hagood, read her blog posts on Paths to Literacy. We are forever grateful for and touched by Linda’s work! Here is a video of her working with a class during the 2007-2008 school year.