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How I Use EFT Tapping With My Autistic Child

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By C. Hayes

I have a 15-year-old high-functioning, autistic teenage daughter. She is high-functioning in that she loves language, and loves to try and communicate; autistic because her disability is her inability to get communication “right.”

She also has significant “learning difficulties.”

I introduced her to EFT tapping early on and she has taken to emotional freedom techniques like a duck to water. What is fascinating is how it has given her a “language” and access to herself in a way that the spoken word never has.

Because it is hard for her to be self-reflective, asking her a question like “How are you?” will always elicit the short answer, “Fine.” She simply cannot process feelings into words, and I often wonder what goes on in her mind as she has different experiences.

How is she making sense of the world when her world is so different from ours?

What she does do is tap!

I introduced EFT as something she could do when she was clearly upset, for instance, when she thinks I have been “mean” to her (i.g., if I am talking with her about something she knows she shouldn’t be doing). She quickly learned to tap using her own words (usually tapping all over the place) which always brings her back to smiling within just one round of basic tapping. This may not sound very significant, but it is actually huge for her.

My daughter’s tapping for herself has given her power over her own emotional states, which she does not seem to understand cognitively. She has shifted from using tapping–not just in the moment to deal with an upset, but to deal with more subtle states, like something that hasn’t happened.

She taps:

Even though I don’t know what’s happening tomorrow, that’s okay because I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

She also uses “I am a great kid,” but being autistic she tends to stick with what I learned myself first and thus taught her first.

Again, it is subtle, but the fact that she can instigate it for herself is enormous. With a disability like autism there is a tremendous loss of power and EFT gives this back in one fell swoop. She taps a lot and so do I. It is something we do together and I feel we are on a level playing field.

There are so many other stories where tapping has helped her emotional state.

Once when she panicked at a swimming lesson because she went under, I tapped with her immediately for her tears and fear. What was amazing was not that it helped the immediate panic, but that the tapping brought up for her the words for her underlying fear: “There might have been no more Katy”–a fear of drowning–that I can guarantee she could not have verbalized (and maybe not have realized) without the tapping.

It is hard to put into words incidents like these, because they sound like everyday EFT and they are, but because they are happening for an autistic child, whose disability is one of cognition and communication, they are huge.

She also once volunteered to help me tap away a migraine I was experiencing by beginning to tap surrogately for me. For her there is no intellectual questioning or doubt. It works, so use it–Mom!

She has made huge and measurable improvements in indicators like eye contact, numbers of loops of conversation, increased flexibility, and increased mental capacity.

What part of it is because of EFT, what is Son-Rise (a fantastic program I run for her), and what is biomedical? I don’t know.

What I do know is that I use EFT all the time, for her, for me, for the wonderful team who works with my lovely daughter, and it’s successful.