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on March 29, 2002
As the mother of two boys with autism, I am always on the lookout for programs that might help reduce hyperactivity and tics. Yoga For the Special Child has helped in that quest.
This book provides clear visuals as well as written directions on how to coax your child to engage in various postures and breathing exercises, first passively, and in later stages, actively.
I actually began the yoga with my son just as he was beginning to fall asleep. As the weeks have moved on, I have introduced some of the postures that require his active participation.
Very simply, he loves the entire process---and yes, it does leave him much more relaxed.
While I found myself raising my eyebrows at some of the claims of benefit enjoyed by severely disabled participants in the writer's yoga school, I do see where consistent use of yoga can provide a child with the means to self regulate hyperactivity and tics.
I do recommend the book in that light, and I am grateful to have found it just as I feared we would have to medicate for hyperactivity.
It's also a fun bonding experience. I finally have something I can do with my son for a change!
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on February 11, 2000
As a beginner yoga student who also works with children with special needs, I found this book much less helpful than I had expected.
The book seems almost entirely focused on people who will be working with a child with Down's syndrome from infancy onwards, and therefore all the directions on how to begin teaching yoga to a child at an early developmental age rely on that child being very small and passive - no help, for example, to anyone working with a child who is developmentally at the 18-months level with no language but with a seven-year-old body and a decidedly un-passive personality!
While I personally would agree that yoga can be very beneficial to everyone, including children with special needs (who may particularly benefit from yoga's capacity to improve body awareness, develop flexibility, concentration, and so on), I was dubious about some of Sumar's claims; for example, she states bluntly that "Scientific tests have shown that the headstand improves memory and intellect" without referring to any sources to support this dramatic claim.
Citing her daughter Roberta's IQ of 87, she states that "Down Syndrome IQs normally range from 20 to 55"; in fact, experts now say that many people with Down's only have mild mental handicaps, with IQs in the 60s or higher, and occasional IQs in the "borderline" or "low normal" range have been documented.
I was also startled that at one point Sumar seemed to be implying that the practice of yoga was responsible for shifting one child's ears "from a low to a normal position in her head"!
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on December 5, 2002
I must admit at the beginning of my writing this review that I was inspired by an earlier reviewer of this book on this site who wrote a relatively negative one. That is too bad; as there are, probably, a bunch of parents and professionals who have chosen not to plunk down their [$$$] to buy this book based on this person's opinion.
This book is for parents and professionals who are probably trying to find something (perhaps "anything" is a more appropriate word) to help their kid/kids. The author, as she describes in the first chapter or so, has "walked the walk", which now enables her to "talk the talk". And, after reading her story, which is heart-wrenching and, ultimately, uplifting, one realizes that the author is in the business of helping "special children", not because it is a good business idea, but because it is her life's mission. (How much money does an author make on such an inexpensive book written for such a limited audience? God bless her publisher.) In short, the author is sincere, authoritative, and, seemingly, hell-bent (in the most caring, lovey-dovey way imaginable) on changing the way that special children interact with the world.
She offers no quick fixes, and specifically warns against them. She emphasizes that patience, consistency, and a long-term commitment are the keys for the best results. She clearly prefers starting children in her program as soon as possible. However, there definitely seems to be no age limit to the kids with whom she works, as one on them seems to be sporting a cheesy-beginner mustache in a photo of him doing an impossible looking pose. The previous reviewer who said that there were no tools to deal with an older child missed the obvious. The author's emphasis on positive reinforcement and "love" is obviously an attempt to build trust with the child, which is the key to dealing with children (special or not) of any age. As for the most difficult cases, the author also conducts a teachers training program and has trained many people (professionals and parents) around the world, many of whom are available to help overwhelmed parents who want to try this program with their own children. (A website address can be found in a footnote on page 61.)
As for the bulk of the book, it consists of loads of exercises (with descriptions and pictures) to help a child develop strength, muscular control, concentration, self-esteem, etc. She does not give lessons on attaining enlightenment. The goal of these exercises is to have the child integrate with other (less special?) children in a "normal" way. Not bad, if this book can deliver all this for [$$$]. Even if this book only helps 1% of the kids that participate in this program, what thinking parent would not gamble a few bucks on those odds?
As for the previous readers comment about the author saying that a child's ears moved lower relative to the rest of her face, I believe that it is unjust. First, the comment appears(on page 32) in a reprint of a letter from a child's pediatrician. Second, the pediatrician does not say that the program moved the ears; it just says that the ears moved during the time the child was participating in the program. Third, the reviewer does not claim to be medical professional, so I don't think that she (or anyone other than a medical professional who examined the child) is in a position to say anything about what happened to this child's ears or how it happened.
In short, parents/professionals must choose to spend their [$$$] or not on a book that could potentially change their kid's life. I hope that my review will help them arrive at their decision. (And, remember, if [$$$] is too much, there is always the public library.)
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on March 29, 2000
After reading the heart-warming story of Ms. Sumar and her daughter Roberta, I have been inspired. Yoga is such a natural method of healing that more and more people are turning to it every day. It seems only logical to take it to the next step, as the author does in this book, and use it as an aid in the development of children with special needs.
I found the manual to be illustrated with easy to follow instructions, and it clearly shows how to adapt the poses as the child develops, regardless of his/her age and abilities. Ms. Sumar lists the benefits of each pose and if certain poses should be avoided due to a child's condition.
I have decided to expand my own daily yoga practices by becoming a teacher and will be looking into attending one of the Yoga for the Special Child trainings this year. This book has helped me make the decision to devote my life to helping other people directly with yoga.
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on April 20, 2000
This is a wonderful book. Ms Sumar is an inspiration for all parents and caregivers of special needs children. By following her heart, she has proven we can overcome all obstacles.
Letters from parents and health care givers who have used her method give this book authenticity. The illustrated how-to section make this unique approach easy to use.
Yoga for the Special Child is truly a blessing for all of us looking for a more natural way to help our children.
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on April 12, 2000
What really touched my heart was to know that Sonia Sumar had a child with Down Syndrome and shared with us her own story, as well as other case histories. It really illustrates and proves that what she is doing is valid. The text is also easy to read -- I have used the book in my own work with special children. I recommend this book very much. It is a beautiful gift to all Americans who work with special needs children.
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on July 28, 1999
This is one of the more precious book I have ever read. It is passionate, easy-to-ready and very professional at the same time. Good for professionals and for parents. I love the photografs; and the step-by-step they teach the exercises really makes it easy to do on your one. Also, the cases histories are incredible. It is a shame not to have it!
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