A communication partner is anyone who knows a participant well and “speaks their language”. A communication partner might be a parent or family member, aide, residential staff or other caregiver.
The role of the communication partner is to facilitate the participant's success in having a beneficial and meaningful yoga practice by providing the following (as appropriate):
Technical support: Helping to get Zoom up and running and making sure audio and video are clear, and handling any technical challenges that arise during the session.
Modeling: Doing the yoga poses side-by-side with the participant. This side-by-side modeling is a powerful form of non-verbal communication. Modeling demonstrates appropriate body positions, movement, pacing and sustaining attention.
Communication: The communication partner can facilitate the use of an AAC or other alternative system that the participant might use to communicate. The communication parter can help the instructor know if a participant has a question, needs a change in pace, is showing signs of distress, wants clarification, etc.
Sharing the experience: Yoga is a powerful tool for connection to self and others. By sharing yoga practice, participants and communication partners will deepen their connection by moving together, breathing together and relaxing together. Yoga is also a well-researched and highly effective way to relieve stress, which is beneficial for everyone!
Voice Colors Yoga instructors are highly trained and experienced in working with students with autism. Your yoga instructor will lead the yoga sessions and provide the necessary corrections and feedback.
However, teaching remotely does not allow us to provide the same level of side-by-side and on-the-spot support that we provide at the yoga studio. The communication partner ensures that participants are able to fully access and maximally benefit from yoga sessions. In some cases if students are experienced in yoga and able to participate independently, we may make an exception to be determined by the instructor.
It is highly recommended that Communication Partners please watch this video prior to their first Yoga for Autism class. Please email your instructor if you have any questions or concerns about being a communication partner. Thanks!
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Photos by Meghan Walsh and Millicent Harvey