By Baerbel Froehlin, CHt
Bob (not his real name) is a 13-year-old boy who couldn’t tie his shoes anymore or hold the utensils when eating dinner. His mom told me, “He often drops things, he is NEVER able to sit completely still, and often has problems sleeping because of the spasms. It almost looks like cerebral palsy and I am very worried.”
She was desperately trying to find alternative help for him because the pediatric neurologist she took Bob to only offered medication for what he called “just muscle tics.”
Bob has already had quite a few experiences with doctors. He has had two open-heart surgeries (aortic stenosis) and may need another to replace his aorta valves. The situation in the family was complicated: When his parents divorced about a year ago his dad moved away with him to Colorado while his mom stayed where the family had lived.
Bob started his violent and uncontrollable twitching when he arrived in Colorado.
When I asked Bob how he felt about the twitching, he calmly explained: “I can’t sit still, I’m always uneasy and afraid because all the kids make fun of me. My fingers constantly twitch; I can never tie my shoes anymore. When I try to eat the utensils fly all over the place. I am so embarrassed!”
As I watched Bob when he sat in my office, his mom next to him, I couldn’t hold myself back and started twitching and wiggling around, just as much as he did.
We started laughing as both of us were moving around in our chairs, tapping together at the same time:
Even though I like to twitch, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though my whole body wants to move constantly, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I HAVE to twitch and move, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though something in my body MAKES me twitch, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I can’t sit still, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I MUST wiggle and move and twitch all the time, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though my second name is TWITCH, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though my third name is WIGGLE, I deeply and completely accept myself.
I really and completely like myself and the amazing things my body does for me
By then we both were laughing loudly as we tapped and twitched, tapped and twitched, wiggling around like crazy in our chairs. His mom watched us in disbelief. After two or three rounds, Bob stopped and sat completely still, his mom now again watching in disbelief!
When I asked Bob about why and when he thought he’d started the twitching he was sure: “It was really hard when I came to Colorado one year ago. I just missed my mom too much!” It turned out that his mom had just come to Colorado to spend time with him, because she was extremely worried.
We did another round of tapping:
Even though I have to twitch, I deeply and completely accept myself because I am such a cool kid.
Even though I have to twitch, my mom loves me and she’s now here with me.
Even though I have to twitch, my dad loves me and I love both of them.
Maybe I don’t need to twitch all the time, as I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I have to twitch, I feel like I can stop now, at least sometimes.
Even though I feel like I must twitch, it’s really up to me, as I can stop or start and that feels really cool.
Even though I feel like I must twitch, I can decide for myself, and I like that because I like being in control.
He started to twitch a little bit again.
When asked how soon he would be able to let go of it completely he told me “not yet”. I felt there were some more issues with his dad that needed resolving. So for the time between sessions I taught him deep breathing that he practiced religiously right there in front of me.
Part of the breathing – a self-hypnosis exercise – was to interrupt the twitching by telling himself STOP whenever he wanted to sit still. That meant he would be able to sleep or sit still most of the time; he would be able to do his tasks, like eating and taking care of himself. Most of all he’d be able to show to the other kids in school his different behavior. He would be in control again and not being bullied by them for his lack of control over his body.
I felt convinced that he needed his twitching, at least for a while longer.
Bob is a good student; he likes being in control of things obviously. Before he left he showed me how he started and then stopped his twitching; on and off again, over and over. The twitching was much less now. Suddenly he’d have a little twitch, definitely getting the attention of his mom. She had started weeping out of pure relief and happiness.
We had another two sessions later where we tapped away a few minor issues concerning his relationship with his dad.
By then Bob’s twitching had decreased to about 25% and he was more and more back to normal. He sometimes used the breathing-and-STOP exercise to prove and make sure (mostly for himself?) that he was in control. He was able to stop any involuntary movement instantly by then and appeared to be just another happy boy out there.
For now this is the end of his therapy with me.
It’s possible that more time with him would bring up more issues and we could bring the 25% down to zero; who knows? I don’t need to know what really it is deep down in Bob’s system that made him twitch; I trust things will develop in a positive way. Maybe a part of it was that I just went nuts about his twitching and joined in and we had some great laughs where everybody else was afraid and concerned?
Right now everybody involved in Bob’s life is so very relieved to experience his improvement. Maybe some of it was/is the muscle tics the neurologist talked about; maybe some of it was his need for attention? We don’t know.
When he left I asked him what he would wish for if he had a wish free. He answered, smiling brightly: “I’d wish for more wishes!”