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Conscious Parenting

Meditation Helps Special Needs Students Control Behavior

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The Benjamin Franklin Freshman Academy in Levittown, Pa. is taking part in a district program this summer to help 25 students – first grade through eighth – with special needs conditions such as autism and attention-deficit disorders (ADD), according to a report by Philly.com.

Students with these conditions often have difficulty reading the social cues of language, voice and behavior in others, and may react in inappropriate ways, as well as experience anxiety at a higher level, according to the report.

Occupational therapist Charles E. Gallagher, who studied Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and trained at the Mindfulness Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, is teaching the children meditation techniques and deep breathing exercises to help them cope, according to the report.

“They feel out of control,” JoAnn Allison, the district’s supervisor of special education said in the report. She explained the strategies being taught help the children feel in control of both themselves and their surroundings.

Meditation can help children control anxiety enough to reduce medications they are taking, Christina DiNicola, a pediatrician with the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson told Philly.com, explaining that early studies show “promising results” in children with ADD who practice yoga and biofeedback to relax.

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