Relieving Violent Trauma of Teenager with Autism & Downs Syndrome

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It’s Not “Talk” Therapy

By Nora J. Baladerian, PhD

As the 17-year-old boy flopped into a chair in my office, I knew right away TFT was the right therapy to help him. A victim of violence by his day-program worker, he is an African-American boy, quiet, very engaging and cute!

He was also born with Downs Syndrome and Autism.

He lives with both of his parents and a younger sister in Los Angeles. To communicate, he uses sign language and a communication board to spell out, letter by letter, any words he wants to say—as his verbal output does not always match what he intends to say.  He also uses sign language (finger spelling) and some American Sign Language.

Because of the moderate level of mental retardation that he has, I knew “typical” talk therapy would not work to help him recover from his trauma. In fact, talk therapy is never used in my practice with individuals with cognitive impairments to begin with. But I have found that TFT can have a quick and significant effect.

At our second session I introduced TFT in action, having “prepared” the parents for the unusual, yet non-verbal, approach I planned. This teenager needed quite a bit of modeling, assistance from his father, and encouragement to participate in the tapping, but he definitely did not want to be the only person in the room not tapping!

I asked the father to first do the tapping completely while focusing on the trauma, and then “pass” the treatment to the boy by touching him after the first treatment.

After just one sequence, the teen was able to do it on his own.

After the 3rd tapping treatment—actually, just before ending the final sequence—he began yawning, then giggling.  I knew then that he was feeling better.

Just to check his progress in releasing the trauma, I asked him to think again about the traumatic event, and he shook his head and giggled.  He was done.

At the conclusion of the session, as I was escorting them all back to the exit, he turned, firmly grabbed and shook my hand, and said, “Good job!”

His parents looked at me, amazed! He had never done that before!  Although they often tell him, “good job” when he has done something well, they had never seen him use this term, especially with appropriateness of the comment!

Since that time, whenever we are in session and he feels he needs help, he begins tapping on the eyebrow point, and away we go.  When he starts to yawn, I know we are done.

He has not asked to tell me what is bothering him, first of all because I do not need to know—and secondly, because using words in this way was difficult and tedious for him.

His parents were excited about his improvement, and have learned much about TFT and its application for their own trauma and anger around his traumatic event. Of course, I was completely thrilled with the effect of TFT, and with the joyousness of his spirit.

Excerpted from Callahan Techniques’ latest bookThe Tapping
Solution: Tapping the Body’s Energy Pathways

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