DEPEW, N.Y. -- A unique type of yoga therapy is helping children with special needs and their parents to better understand one another and improve the children's sensory skills.
Wendy Thomson first learned about therapeutic yoga from her son's speech therapist.
"Initially, it was having him listen to direction, more of an authority figure other than myself or my husband,” said Thomson. “And then incorporating the breathing…we even do that at nighttime, at bedtime, we do a breathing routine.”
The results are helping everyone at home get more rest now.
“It has helped quite a bit with calming him down and relaxation,” said Thomson about her son, Ollie.
Vito Gigante is the man behind this new class. He is a professional occupational therapist who is also certified in yoga, and now, he's combining the two in a way that's helping families.
He engages children with fun activities while showing parents unique tips, like how compression can have a calming effect on kids.
"I love this age group, and all these kids, and I think starting yoga at this age and just getting those basic concepts is wonderful for kids,” said Gigante.
The Cantalician center says the class is meant to help 18-month-olds to 3-year-olds who might have developmental delays. It's designed to improve motor skills as well as focus and attention.
"One of the greatest feedbacks I've had is that my child is actually sleeping now,” said Gigante.
Part of what makes this so interesting is that you don't typically find yoga and toddlers in the same sentence.
"I never really thought of it respect to behavioral or speech for that matter,” said Thomson. “I just didn’t link the two together.”
To the kids, they're playing. Gigante is making sure that while they're having fun, they're also gaining skills that will make life easier as they grow up.
"You know, the gross motor, the fine motor, the visual motor...all those things kind of come together, and I feel like yoga is a really great vehicle to fuse all of that together,” Gigante said.
If you think this program might help your family, you can ask your school's early intervention program for more information, or you can contact the Cantalician Center directly about learning if your child qualifies and how to sign up. The next session begins May 4th.