Emotional Freedom Technique and Autism

Emotional Freedom Technique and Autism

I am a fan of EFT (and the Energy Therapies in general), but I am only sharing this item rather than endorsing it, because I have not yet tried using EFT with any of the children with whom I have been involved.

Using EFT on Autism With Dramatic Results

by: Sandra Lewis, MA, EFT-Adv.

For those of you who haven’t heard of EFT, it stands for Emotional Freedom Technique, and is what we call an energy-based meridian therapy. There are several different meridian therapies in use, but EFT is by far the most widely used, embraced by psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors, life coaches, and lay people around the world who use it for everything from physical aches and pains to the worst childhood traumas.

I have been a psychotherapist in Toronto for many years now, practicing classical therapeutic techniques with a broad range of clients. In the last few years, I have included EFT in my work, and have seen many dramatic events as a result of it. But I wanted to talk about one in particular, because for the first time I was able to convince a parent to try EFT with her child. As you can imagine, it is difficult for the therapist to interact with the child using what is essentially an acupressure technique. It required the willingness of a parent to take extra time out of a very busy life to make the effort at home.

My client, Katia, who is happy to share this information with my readers, has a 7-year-old son who was diagnosed many years ago with severe autism. Her husband quit his job and devoted himself full-time to helping David function as well as might be hoped. He used the Sonrise technique, which many of you may be familiar with. And her husband was certainly able to make a difference, after three years of enormous effort. But like many parents of autistic children, he began to run out of steam. It’s a very demanding role for a parent to fill, as you know.

Katia came to me without her son, David, and together she and I worked on some of her frustrations as a parent, using the EFT protocol. Then I gave her some statements to use with David. We decided that we would work initially on making him more responsive to his parents and less of a challenge to their patience. Katia told me that David was very sensitive to noise, and would scream and cry when she turned on the blender in the kitchen. He would also scream in the car if she had the radio on. EFT combines tapping on key acupuncture points while repeating a kind of affirmation at the same time.

Katia used statements that focused on the noisy blender, the irritation David felt when he heard it, and his reaction (screaming).

Katia also told me that, like many autistic children, David had suffered a trauma when he was born. The doctors had to use a vacuum and then forceps. Katia couldn’t see this, but she could see the expression on her husband’s face, which went white with anxiety. As well, David was vaccinated 12 hours after being born.

So we added statements to release this trauma, statements that reflected what we imagined it must have been like for David, how terrible it must have been, how frightening, how the world suddenly didn’t seem safe, how his head hurt.

Katia would tap every evening while David was going to sleep. She would tap on herself as a surrogate and on him. Amazingly EFT works both ways, which is a Godsend for autistic children who don’t like to be touched. She added statements for his speech problems, and his difficulty communicating.

All this time Katia’s husband was away on a trip. When he returned after one month, he said he noticed immediately an enormous change in his son’s behaviour. He said he hardly recognized David. These are some of the things he and Katia saw in just one month:

  • David’s speech improved dramatically. He would answer questions, something he never did before, even when they were simple yes or no questions.
  • He would ask for things in complete sentences: “I want bread” instead of using one word, “bread”.
  • He started noticing other children and wanting to play with them (before he seemed lost in his own world).
  • When he was playing with children, he would follow the rules of the game.
  • He was visually focusing on his parents, making conscious eye contact and holding it for minutes at a time (before he would look all around the room, but not at them).
  • He was clearly processing information from them when he was making this eye contact (his eyes seemed active instead of vacant).
  • He stopped screaming when he heard loud noises, and even asked for the radio to be turned on in the car (in Katia’s words, there was no chance this could happen before he didn’t like music from any source except TV).
  • It was possible to negotiate things with him for the first time, i.e. If you eat this apple, then you can have a cookie.
  • He started eating apples bananas were the only fruit he would eat before.

David’s grandfather was away as well for a month and he agreed that his grandson had made a big shift while he was away.  Normally it might have been difficult to clearly identify EFT as the cause of this change. But because David’s father, Yuri, was the one who usually worked with him, while Yuri was away, virtually no extra time was spent with David on his autism. Katia was busy just taking care of the house and preparing meals, and so the only extra time spent with David were the few minutes she devoted to tapping in the evening.

Katia continues to work on David and he continues to make progress. One day, for example, he put together very complicated tower (around 200-300 Lego pieces) completely by himself, and without any instructions. It was very close to the suggested one on the box, but with quite a lot of improvisations.

As well, he is more often using sentences of three to four words, instead of single words. His father says, “The interesting thing is it seems like he is constructing some of the sentences himself. So, he is starting to generalize, which is the main issue with autism. I still do not have a stop watch, but it looks to me as though his attention span is getting longer.”

(as published on the EFT website Jan/07 at http://www.emofree.com/Archives)

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