PP-OTD Student Spotlight: Mind-Body Integration Program for Children

by Minal Shah

I’m excited to share with you the incredible journey I’ve embarked on with my Mind-Body Integration (MBI) project. As a school-based occupational therapy practitioner, my passion lies in finding innovative ways to support children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) in their educational journey. Today, I’d love to take you along this transformative path of discovery, where mindfulness and interoceptive awareness have become my guiding lights.

The seed of the MBI project was sown when I witnessed the challenges that children with NDDs face in the school system. Executive functioning difficulties, self-regulation, and emotional control often hinder their academic progress and social participation. It became clear that a holistic intervention was needed to address these fundamental issues and empower these incredible young minds.

Through extensive research, I found promising evidence for mindfulness-based interventions. These interventions demonstrated substantial improvements in self-regulation, behavior regulation, and executive functioning in children with special needs. The concept of integrating mindfulness practices with the interoceptive awareness model fascinated me.

I designed the MBI program, aiming to enhance emotional and behavioral regulation, improve executive functions, and ultimately bolster overall well-being in children aged 8 to 10 with NDDs. The program’s structure comprised a range mindfulness activities and interoceptive awareness activities. I adapted the Interoception Curriculum by Kelly Mahler to suit my students. 

Throughout the journey, I collaborated closely with school district administrators, teachers, parents, and fellow OTs. Their unwavering support and valuable feedback were integral to the program’s success. I truly believe that collective efforts can bring about transformative change in the lives of these remarkable children.

In conclusion, the MBI project has been a transformative experience, both for me as an OT and for the children it aims to empower. Mindfulness and interoceptive awareness have become powerful tools in my arsenal, and I’m excited to see the positive impact they will have on many more young learners. Together, let’s continue to support the well-being and academic success of children with NDDs, ensuring they thrive and shine in their educational journey.