Working with Special Needs People

People with Autism and Developmental Delays

I began to consider this population because of the stories my niece would tell me about her work at a number of well-known schools for ASD and developmentally delayed children. One school had an amazing success record. When she explained the techniques she was taught to use, I immediately recognized a number of them.

I began to do research on alternate therapies that were being offered to this group of children and young adults. Therapies that were body-centered seemed to have a lot of success; many somatic or body-based therapies were individually showing some positive results. I wondered about possible outcomes for this population if they were given multiple body-centered treatment therapies that affected the neurological and energetic systems.

Applying the Research Selectively

There is an absolute correlation between somatic education and neurological development. We also know for certain that physical movement affects neurological development. Few schools or educational or research groups, however, have chosen to integrate these somatic healing methods into their overall educational programs.

Some cutting edge schools in the United States and abroad are now beginning to teach simple Brain Gym exercises. Brain Gym exercises are very simple movements that help with right/left brain integration and neural organization.

Another issue that interested me was the prevalence of anxiety in both the ASD and the developmentally-delayed population. Prozac and other drugs are sometimes useful and successful in dealing with anxiety, but I wondered if there were other less invasive and non-pharmaceutical therapies that could be effective with a population who might have difficulties with verbal skills and for whom talk therapy might not be the right choice. I had been looking at EMDR and PTSD and wondering if there were other similar therapies that could work directly with traumatic memory, phobias, and anxiety.

I began to study Thought Field Therapy (TFT), a simple technique that is very effective in helping mitigate the emotional charge on past traumas. Basically, TFT disrupts a neurological pattern of distress by evoking a memory and tapping an acupuncture point. I have found that it is helpful even when the child cannot talk about his fear. Instead, I have the caregiver talk about a stressful event that affected the child while I go through the tapping procedure.

Integrative Touch Technique is the approach I developed for treating those with autism and developmental delays. It integrates Brain Gym, Thought Field Therapy, gentle spinal alignment, and Reiki or Reconnective Healing.

These therapies address the sensory, emotional, and motor systems, which mediate the way we learn, and communicate with the world around us.

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