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.
During a family vacation last week, I had the opportunity to share the miracle of TFT with another family whose son was severely traumatized by water. The following account was written by my son, Rick Cowley, who witnessed the event:
Last week we had a family reunion on the island of Kauai. One day my mom and sister and I walked down to the local beach where we met my wife and 4 year old daughter. One corner of this beach has a man made sea wall which blocks the waves and makes for a perfectly calm and safe children’s pool about 50 feet in diameter. The bottom is sand. The depth varies with the tides and this day it was about 18 inches deep.
Deep enough for my daughter to swim around a bit, and then stand up whenever and wherever she wanted to.
We were sitting on the beach and noticed a father holding his son’s hand and running up and down along the water’s edge. The boy looked about 3 years old. He was screaming the whole way. I couldn’t tell if the screaming was excitement or panic. The father saw us watching them and said to us as they ran by us, “He’s afraid of the water.” So it was definitely a panicked scream.
My mom said to me, “TFT would probably help that boy.”
After a few laps the mother brought the boy into 8 inch deep water, sat down and held him in her lap. This time there was no mistaking his scream: sheer terror. He fought and struggled and screamed and kicked while his mom grappled him and tried to reassure him that it was okay in the water. His dad was playing in the pool with his baby brother, who was thoroughly enjoying the water.
It was obvious that his parents were determined to help him overcome his fear, but I was afraid that the trauma of being forced to endure the water was going to have the opposite effect. (I teach surfing and many of my adult students confess to me that they are terrified of the water because of some traumatic childhood experience in the ocean.)
We talked for a few more minutes but we couldn’t help but watch the struggle in front of us.
I said to my mom, “Why don’t you go see if you can help them with TFT?”
My mom got up and walked over to the mother, still sitting in shallow water, pinning her screaming son to her lap. My mom leaned over and talked with them for a moment and then motioned a tapping sequence which the mom did on the kicking and screaming boy.
I was really curious what would happen right then with the boy. After the sequence, while the mother and my mom were talking, the boy broke free and ran to higher ground. My mom kept talking with her for a few minutes.
I’m fairly skeptical of TFT. For myself I’ve experienced both good results and no results. At first I was disappointed that the boy didn’t calm down immediately and sit with his mom in the water. “It didn’t work,” I thought, “bummer…”
What unfolded during the next few minutes however was a miracle.
The boy stayed higher up for a few minutes playing in the sand while his mom and my mom talked, and his dad and baby brother played in the water.
Then the boy began approaching the water of his own volition, at first going in just up to ankle deep. His dad saw this and began enticing him by holding out a bucket of water for him to take. The boy slowly walked out in knee deep water to his dad.
This kid 5 minutes before was screaming in terror at running in wet sand. After one TFT sequence he was walking out by himself in knee deep water!
The whole family happily played in the pool together for the next 30 minutes.
Mary Cowley: I learned from the mother that her son was also autistic. I only had time to show her the first 4 tapping points before he jumped off her lap onto the sand. As I was teaching her how to finish the technique so she could try it with him later, we noticed he was in the water, happily playing with his Dad! Needless to say, the mother was ecstatic to see this profound shift in her son–and I was grateful for the opportunity to share and witness TFT’s healing power once again.