Use of Yoga in Children with Autism: A Systematic Review of Literature




Martel, Rebecca K.
Fugler, Joseph
Yarbrough, Kaitlyn
Wheeler, Allison
Salem, Yasser
Liu, Howe
Young, Amanda


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Use of Yoga in Children with Autism: A Systematic Review of Literature Purpose and Hypothesis Research examining the use of yoga in children has suggested benefits related to a variety of outcomes; however, there is no review that synthesized research findings for children with autism. The purpose of this review was to examine the evidence concerning the use of yoga exercises for children with autism. Safety concerns, potential benefits and practical application are discussed. Materials/Methods: The databases searched included PubMed, PsychINFO, CINAHL, Cochrane, OVID, PEDro, ProQuest, Access Physiotherapy, and Hooked on Evidence. The search was conducted using the following keywords: ‘yoga’, ‘autism’, and ‘autism spectrum disorder’. Titles and abstracts were assessed manually according to the following criteria: (1) children with autism spectrum disorder, and (2) intervention (yoga program). An additional search, the reference lists of the relevant articles, was explored manually. We screened those articles for duplicate and selection criteria. Results: Seven of the 107 articles that were retrieved met the inclusion criteria. Across all studies, a total of 153 children (age range 13 to 16 years old) with autism were investigated. All studies reported improvements following participation in yoga exercises. Conclusion The result of this review suggests positive effects of yoga exercises in children with autism. The results should be interpreted with caution given the strength of evidence and the quality of reviewed studies and that the number of studies that examined the effects of yoga exercise in children with autism is low.