Madison County High autism students benefit from Yoga - WSMV News 4

Madison Central High School autism students benefit from Yoga

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

It takes a truly special teacher to teach students with special needs. And in Madison county, a little creativity and initiative go a long way.

Educator Janice Stack is in charge of the high school boys at Madison Central High School who have autism. They are between 16 and 18 years old. This year, Stack started incorporating yoga into her curriculum.

"It incorporates the whole mind, body and breaths together, so it just seemed like a great fit," said Stack.

Stack says it has almost surprised her, what a tremendous benefit the discipline has been for the students.

"They get on their mat. It teaches them boundaries," add Stack. "It teaches them how to focus. It's also a routine. Just the structure of it."

The kids are actually mastering an art form.

"They've learned some terms in yoga and they know the names of the poses," Stack explained. 

Student Trey Trussell can certainly name them.

"Go cat to cow. Walk the dog. And happy baby, ha ha," said Trey, followed by laughter.

It's obvious that yoga is one of the highlights of the students' week. It's a routine Stack instructs twice a week for 30 minutes. She says yoga enhances what she calls sensory integration for these students, who's communication skills are challenged.

"The real benefits I've seen are the breathing techniques because they have learned how to take a deep breath and relax," said Stack. "I've seen them use that and it transfers over into their academics and their social lives as well. Just learning and advancing through the yoga has given them a lot of self confidence."

Next year, Stack will be teaching the same class of autistic students at Madison Central and she says the yoga instruction will continue as long as these student benefit.

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