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Background/Aim: Children with autism exhibit significant deficits in imitation skills, which impede the acquisition of more complex behavior and socialization. Imitation is often targeted early in intervention plans and continues to be addressed throughout the child’s treatment. The use of integrated approach to yoga therapy (IAYT) as a complementary therapy for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is rarely reported and little is known on the effectiveness of such therapies. This study investigated IAYT as a treatment method with children with ASD to increase imitative skills. Materials and Methods: Parents and six children with ASD participated in a 10-month program of 5-weekly sessions and regular practice at home. Pre, mid and post treatment assessments included observers and parent ratings of children’s imitation skills in tasks related to imitation skills such as gross motor actions, vocalization, complex imitation, oral facial movements and imitating breathing exercises. Results: Improvement in children’s imitation skills especially pointing to body, postural and oral facial movements. Parents reported change in the play pattern of these children with toys, peers and objects at home. Conclusions: This study indicates that IAYT may offer benefits as an effective tool to increase imitation, cognitive skills and social-communicative behaviors in children with ASD. In addition, children exhibited increased skills in eye contact, sitting tolerance, non-verbal communication and receptive skills to verbal commands related to spatial relationship.

Difficulties in social cognition are well recognized in individuals with autism spectrum conditions (henceforth ‘autism’). Here we focus on one crucial aspect of social cognition: the ability to empathize with the feelings of another. In contrast to theory of mind, a capacity that has often been observed to be impaired in individuals with autism, much less is known about the capacity of individuals with autism for affect sharing. Based on previous data suggesting that empathy deficits in autism are a function of interoceptive deficits related to alexithymia, we aimed to investigate empathic brain responses in autistic and control participants with high and low degrees of alexithymia. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we measured empathic brain responses with an ‘empathy for pain’ paradigm assessing empathic brain responses in a real-life social setting that does not rely on attention to, or recognition of, facial affect cues. Confirming previous findings, empathic brain responses to the suffering of others were associated with increased activation in left anterior insula and the strength of this signal was predictive of the degree of alexithymia in both autistic and control groups but did not vary as a function of group. Importantly, there was no difference in the degree of empathy between autistic and control groups after accounting for alexithymia. These findings suggest that empathy deficits observed in autism may be due to the large comorbidity between alexithymic traits and autism, rather than representing a necessary feature of the social impairments in autism.
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Integrated Movement Therapy™ is an individual and group therapy approach that combines speech-language pathology, behavioral and mental health counseling, and Yoga. It is taught by master-degreed therapists who are also certified Yoga instructors. Although this approach has been successfully implemented with children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Learning Disabilities, Pervasive Developmental Delay, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Dyspraxia, and other specific motor-based disorders, it has had especially consistent and remarkable results with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Integrated Movement Therapy has six core principles: structure and continuity, social interaction, language stimulation, self-calming, physical stimulation, and direct self-esteem building. The following article will describe Autism Spectrum Disorders in depth and will show how each of the six core principles of Integrated Movement Therapy specifically addresses the characteristics associated with Autism. It will also note specific, documented improvements in all areas addressed based on qualitative ratings scales and parent feedback.
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Some individuals with autism engage in physical aggression to an extent that interferes with not only their quality of life, but also that of their parents and siblings. Behavioral and psychopharmacological treatments have been the mainstay of treatments for aggression in children and adolescents with autism. We evaluated the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based procedure, Meditation on the Soles of the Feet, in helping three adolescents to manage their physical aggression. This procedure required the adolescents to rapidly shift the focus of their attention from the aggression-triggering event to a neutral place on their body, the soles of their feet. Incidents of aggression across the three adolescents ranged from a mean of 14–20 per week during baseline, 4–6 per week during mindfulness training, including zero rates during the last 4 weeks of intervention. Aggression occurred a rate of about 1 per year during a 3-year follow-up. Our results suggest adolescents with autism can learn, and effectively use, a mindfulness-based procedure to self-manage their physical aggression over several years.
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Teasing requires the ability to understand intention, nonliteral communication, pretense, and social context. Children with autism experience difficulty with such skills, and consequently, are expected to have difficulty with teasing. To better understand teasing concepts and behaviors, children with autism, their parents, and age and Verbal-IQ-matched comparison children and parents described concepts and experiences of teasing and engaged in a parent–child teasing interaction. The teasing of children with autism was less playful and provocative and focused less on social norms than that of comparison children. Similarly, parents of children with autism teased in less playful ways. Scores on a theory of mind task accounted for several of the observed differences. Discussion focused on the importance of understanding social context and playful behavior during teasing.
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