Although emotional dysregulation is not a specific criterion for diagnosing a child with autism, those who are on the spectrum tend to be more likely to lack emotional self-regulation skills.
However, ASD children can learn to self-regulate! Today we will analyze a self-soothing method that is becoming widely known and is used by professionals to help people relax, tapping.
What Exactly is Tapping?
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping is a research-based, alternative, and holistic treatment for physical pain and emotional distress.
Tapping with the fingertips on specific points on the body, while focusing on negative emotions or physical sensations, helps to calm the nervous system, rewire the brain to respond in healthier ways, and restore the body’s balance of energy.
This idea of tapping can also be referred to as Acupoint Stimulation, which is simply applying pressure on particular acupuncture points in order to notice a specific outcome. EFT has been used to effectively treat war veterans and active military with PTSD. In a , researchers studied the impact of EFT tapping on veterans with PTSD against those receiving standard care. Within a month, participants receiving EFT coaching sessions had significantly reduced their psychological stress.
Since then, there have been several other studies conducted on this Emotional Freedom Technique, including a broad meta-study reviewing 3,000 studies of tapping techniques.
Does Tapping Have a Significant Effect on Those with Autism?
Oftentimes, children with Autism need sensory stimulation, whether that be via touch, sound, movement, sight, etc. By receiving the stimulation, the child may be attempting to manage emotions and self-regulate.
Certain behaviors in these categories are called ; however, stimming isn’t always safe and can cause major disruption at times. Therefore, tapping can be a “safe alternative” to self-soothing behavior, as a more appropriate way of regulating over-stimulation.
While there is a lack of specific research on the use of tapping with groups of individuals with autism, there is research on the efficacy of tapping in those with anxiety disorders and those who need general relief from emotional distress. Tapping can be used as a simple stress-reduction technique, which many with autism could benefit from. Furthermore, the movements of tapping offer a repetitive stimulating feeling such as stimming does.
Introduction to the Tapping Points
Eyebrow Point (EB)
Where the eyebrows begin, closest to the bridge of the nose.
Side of Eye (SE)
On the bone directly along the outside of either eye.
Under Eye (UE)
On the bone directly under either eye.
Under Nose (UN)
The area directly beneath the nose and above the upper lip.
Chin Point (CP)
This is the area just below your bottom lip and above the chin, right in the crease.
Collarbone Point (CB)
Starting from where your collar bones meet in the center, go down an inch and out an inch on either side.
Under Arm (UA)
On your side, about four inches beneath the armpit.
Top of Head (TH)
Directly on the crown of your head.
Begin by tapping the karate chop point while simultaneously reciting your setup phrase three times. Then, tap each following point seven times, moving down the body in this ascending order:
- side of the eye
- under the eye
- under the nose
- beginning of the collarbone
- under the arm
After tapping the underarm point, finish the sequence at the top of the head point.
How Can I Help My ASD Child Learn Tapping?
Here are our tried-and-true tips to make the tapping easy for you and your kids.
Familiarise yourself with the technique so you are confident to teach others.
Introduce tapping in a light-hearted manner, don’t “force” them to work on things unless they are open to it.
Make it fun – for younger children try using the words “magic buttons” to describe the tapping points or give them each a name i.e.: “the monkey spot” for the top of the head or the “gorilla spot” for the collarbone point
Go slow and steady – concentrate one issue at a time so as not to create overwhelm for either of you and to allow better cognitive understanding of their improvement.
Don’t give up – every bit of tapping you do is helping to reprogram their subconscious and build resilience. Be persistent and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a practitioner, especially for more complex issues.
At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with Stem Cell Therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation, and improving brain function. We also created an on Facebook that is destined to offer support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.
Remember, you are not alone!