Healing Children on the Autism Spectrum
In February, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article describing an increasing incidence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which strikes 1 in 68 children. A determination of ASD is made based on studies of a child’s behavior and development. A better understanding of the disorder will improve the lives of these children and their families.
One of these children’s challenges is that they are hypersensitive to stimuli that include noise and the emotions of others; and they experience their environment much more intensely, a situation that causes a sensory overload. These children, typically around the ages of 13 to 19 months, begin to show signs that appear to be attempts to shut themselves off from what is occurring in their environment.
According to theories of energy medicine, an energy field encompasses our body, and as these children experience greater stimuli from their external environment, the portion of the energy field that encompasses the brain disconnects, decreasing the amount of stimuli that the brain needs to process. Thus, the child is no longer able to process their emotions, often resulting in a feeling of being ungrounded and less able to focus.
The fact that children with ASD perceive the world differently may be seen as a gift; they may perceive the world in ways not possible for other people. Yet, this alternative perception may also contribute to the sensory overload they are experiencing.
When caring for children with ASD, it is important to decrease any unnecessary stimuli in the home or school environment. Supportive changes include painting rooms in light pastel colors to provide a calming atmosphere. Areas should be decluttered, shelves should be orderly and surfaces should be clear. Fluorescent lighting should be avoided because it is thought to be irritating to those with sensory processing issues, or sensitive energy fields. Speaking softly and avoiding situations where several people are speaking at once can help the child feel more relaxed. Standing side-byside with the child, rather than in front, is recommended, as is refraining from establishing frequent eye contact. Children with ASD also benefit from being seated with a little more space between themselves and other students in school.
Only gentle touch should be used.
Coaching to help the child and family understand the child’s gifts, facilitating healing to provide grounding and decrease the child’s sensitivity to stimuli and offering strategies to support and accommodate these children in their settings enable the children to thrive.
This holistic approach can lead to dramatic changes in the children’s ability to interact with others, to participate, to focus well and to be successful in school and at home.
Terri Humphrey is the owner of True Wholeness Healing, located at 121 E. Silver Spring Dr., in Whitefish Bay. For more information, call 414-243-9851 or visit TrueWholenessHealing.com.