Using meditation with students with intellectual disabilities and/or autism


#1

I am a speech and language pathologist in a middle school, grades 6-8th., and work with students with expressive, receptive, and social pragmatic skills at 2nd-3rd grade level. Almost all of my students struggle with regulating their emotions and thoughts, often describing how hard it is to focus on academic skills and social situations as their minds are spinning “stuck” on a scenario which occurred earlier in the day, or a personal issue/problem from home. I want to give my students a tool to quiet their minds allowing them to be present throughout more of their school day and access academic as well as social opportunities.


#2

Hi,

I am so glad you posted and are interested in ways to help your students quiet their minds and be more present. Increasingly, more research is being done that supports the use of mindfulness practices to not only help students self-regulate, but also assist with rumination. When educators adopt mindfulness practices and share them with their students, students experience positive outcomes academically as well as behaviorally and socially. Mindfulness-based programs that promote social emotional learning are an effective means of supporting students with special needs.

I am posting two studies below, but feel free to email me at lgrady@innerexplorer.org for a summary of research abstracts regarding to mindfulness in education.

Mindfulness shown to lessen anxiety, enhance social skills and improve academic performance in students with learning disabilities.

Beauchemin, J., Hutchins, T. L., & Patterson, F. (2008). Mindfulness meditation may lessen anxiety, promote social skills, and improve academic performance among adolescents with learning disabilities. Complementary Health Practice Review, 13, 34–45.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1533210107311624

Thirty-four students diagnosed with a learning disability participated in a pilot study with a pre-post no- control design to determine the feasibility and outcomes of a 5-week mindfulness intervention. Those adolescents that completed the program demonstrated decreased state and trait anxiety, enhanced social skills, and improved academic performance. Interviews performed post-study revealed an overwhelmingly positive attitude toward the program.

Ability to self-regulate improves with MBSR Training program.

Flook, L. et al. (2010). The effects of mindful awareness practices on executive function in elementary school children, Journal of Applied School Psychology, 26: 1, 70-95.

These two pilot studies demonstrated that mindful awareness practices improve executive function in elementary school children. Specifically, there was improvement in self-regulatory abilities among preschool and elementary school students who participated in an 8-week modified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training program, taught in two 30-minute sessions per week. Children who were initially less well-regulated showed the strongest improvements subsequent to training, as compared to children in the control group who did not receive the training.

Inner Explorer’s programs are based on the MBSR training protocols and are easily incorporated into the classroom with 5-10 minute unique, guided practices. We have programs that serve students K-12 and I can help you identify which program would be best suited for your students.

With warmth,
Lisa


#3

Lisa,

Thank you, thank you for taking the time to respond to my email including
data to help guide Next Steps at my class, school, and district level. With
my complicated and varied 6-8 grade population, I can trial different
routes to the means. However, encouraging less-flexible teachers to change
their mindset often takes data.

Over the past 2 weeks, I have been consulting with the elementary SLP’s to
generate my middle school caseload for next year. I would like to use Inner
Explorer with my summer school students so I’m ready-for-action come to
Fall. Nine of my students have an intellectual impairment (w/secondary
disability in autism or communication) working academically at 1-3rd grade
level (with shorter attention spans), while the other 20 special education
students; presenting with ADHD, autism, & language-learning difficulties,
work between 5-8th grade academically. Does the Inner Explorer year-long
trial program allow for flexibility between those ability levels?

Last Wednesday I started including Kris Carr, Crazy Sexy(they’re NOT) Love
Notes in my sessions, each card offers an intention (plan) for the day.
These simple messages are accompanied by beautiful artwork on (large
playing card-size) cards. The first card, “Notice the blessings” focused
on gratitude; I read the message to the students & each “thought about
their thinking” to find a connection to their lives. On Friday, when I
worked with them again each student was able to recall the intention from
Weds., and didn’t complain when I chose another. I think this “tool” will
be a route to include pro-social strategies within the school day.

Please let me know when/how I can start playing with Inner Explorer.
Looking forward!

Best,

Hallie


#4

Hi Hallie,

I hear both your dedication and enthusiasm in your post! I appreciate you writing such a detailed post as I think sharing information around this topic is so valuable to the education community. The way you encourage your students to find connections between the simple (yet profound) messages and their daily lives invites mindfulness and helps your students to embody the practice.

Typically, the individual license covers one program. Our school wide license covers all of our programs and allows for flexibility among the programs as well as the addition of unlimited teachers/administrators and support staff from your school. We also offer a parent/caregiver opt-in with both individual and school wide licenses so that parents and caregivers can tune in from home.

We are so grateful to Hemera for offering these individual and school wide licenses for a year at no charge. I look forward to hearing more about the work you are doing with your students on this forum.

I have emailed you with a request for the information we need to get you started.

With warmth,
Lisa