Talk Yoga - a new approach to your therapy sessions!
Expecting kids to sit nicely through a speech-language therapy session is often a challenge because kids are inherently built to move and explore their worlds as they learn. Have you ever wondered how you might intentionally harness childrens’ exuberant energy to enhance your therapy sessions?
While working in a school dedicated to serving children with language and learning disabilities, we often co-treated with OTs and PTs. We saw first-hand that movement was a catalyst to improve speech and language skills. We had an epiphany! We needed to combine the therapy tools we used daily with the movement we love dearly--yoga.
As we tested out our theory, it became quite apparent that the practice of yoga provided a unique treatment of a variety of speech and language disorders. Combining yoga and play with teaching speech and language developmental milestones broke the paradigm of traditional therapy.
Research suggests that movement (vestibular stimulation) activates cognitive abilities and enhances opportunities for novel, spontaneous language! Yoga engages the most basic child-centric learning style, tactile/kinesthetic learning, thus engaging the whole child. In children, gross motor skills develop first, then fine motor, and, finally, speech and language skills. Play develops the coordination and strength needed to support phonation and are foundations for speech and language development.
The Talk Yoga Program - express, play, and learn!
The Talk Yoga program was designed to provide children and therapists with a way to address speech and language skills in a nontraditional way. Talk Yoga is just like it sounds. We actually talk while doing yoga. Talk Yoga articulation poses match the movement of the articulators, create muscle memory, and physically active ways to practice speech sounds. Talk Yoga articulation poses, flows, and games also target expressive language skills such as vocabulary and MLU as well as receptive language skills such as following directions.
Research and Anecdotal Evidence.
Current anecdotal research from over three years of using Talk Yoga techniques in individual sessions and classroom settings indicates improved self confidence, ability to maintain focus, memory, placement and production of speech sounds, and overall receptive and expressive language skills.
One of our favorite success stories is Matthew--a sweet and energetic boy who literally never stopped moving. When he was four years old, his parents were concerned about his articulation development. After several weeks of therapy, the traditional therapy plan was thrown out the window. Matthew needed to move. Enter...Talk Yoga! Bring in the yoga mat and say good-bye to the sticker charts. Breathing techniques were practiced throughout each session. Matthew loved the poses, shared them with his family, and eventually, these poses became a part of his bedtime routine. His focus and self-regulation in therapy gradually improved. This resulted in a calmer state, which resulted in more receptivity to learning. His parents and other family members began remarking that his speech was easier to understand.
William is another example of Talk Yoga success! When he began attending Talk Yoga classes, he presented with severe articulation errors as well as delays in expressive language. Initially, the poses and other physical exercises were challenging for William. After three months of Talk Yoga classes, William’s pediatrician remarked that she noticed an incredible change in his speech and language. William’s confidence had also increased. His overall strength and coordination increased. He needed fewer cues for speech sounds and language. He became a class leader and taught other children poses. Combining speech-language therapy and yoga was a recipe for success.
What comes next?
Speech-language therapy in isolation is an effective intervention for improving speech and language skills. Yoga in isolation is effective for improving focus, breathing, and self-regulation. Combining speech-language therapy with the movement of yoga is doubly powerful. Give it a try. No more stressing about the copies you forgot to make, or the tokens you forgot to grab from your drawer. Grab a yoga mat (or not!), sit on the floor with your clients and get ready to have a blast making some noise talking while practicing yoga.
Kenny, Molly (2002). Integrated Movement TherapyTM: Yoga-Based Therapy as a Viable and Effective Intervention for Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 12, 71.
Radhakrishna, Shantha; Nagarathna, Raghuram; Nagendra, H. (April 2010). Integrated approach to yoga therapy and autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 2, 120-124.
Suman, Renata. (July-August 2000). Yoga and Speech-Language Therapy. Yoga Chicago.
Cooper, Catherine (August 18-24 2010). A calming influence. Nursing Standard 24, 24-25.
Satchidananda, Sri Swami (2012). The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Desikachar, T. K. V. (1999). The Heart of Yoga.
Paul, Rhea (2001). Language Disorders From Infancy Through Adolescence.