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With that out of the way, back to the new evidence-based practices report and cognitive behavioral interventions. You can read earlier posts in this series here.
I’ve talked about relaxation strategies and what CBI is. Tonight I wanted to talk about a specific practice that is gaining research support for use with individuals with autism: Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that originated in the Far East. The point of Mindfulness is to be mindful of the moment and let everything else go. It’s been used to promote mindful eating, where you think about the food you are eating and not the 18 million other things going on around you or in your life. One of the primary forms is a type of meditation called Soles of the Feet. The point of Meditation on the Soles of the Feet exercises are to learn to shift attention quickly from an aggressive interaction or trigger to thinking about the soles of your feet. It’s a mediation exercise that focuses on something that is designed to calm you and distract you from the aggressive trigger. lYou can see the steps of the exercise HERE. It is a practice that is gaining some strength in schools among other places and there is research to support its use with students with ASD. Here is one of the studies included in the EBP report.
In this study, the researchers had mothers train their children to use the Meditation on the Soles of the Feet strategy. First they had 1 week of intensive training by their mothers, going through the steps twice each day. Then the students used a recording and were required to do it twice a day plus start to use it whenever an aggressive incident occurred or was going to occur. This phase continued until there were 4 weeks with no aggressive incidents. They found that Mindfulness training decreased aggressive behavior as a self-monitoring strategy for adolescents with ASD and individuals with mental health issues as well as intellectual disabilities. Most astounding is that the effects lasted for OVER 3 YEARS! That’s a long follow up in research and it is a good sign that it is a long-lasting life skill that can address aggression. Mindfulness training has also been used to decrease anxiety.
This is a video that takes you through the steps of Meditation on the Soles of the Feet.
And this is a description of using the practice of mindfulness in schools (not specific to autism).
Have you tried Mindfulness or meditation with your students? How do you use it in the classroom or would you want to try it? Sound off in the comments.
Until next time,