Swan Mothers

Discovering Ourselves through Parenting

Stimming as Spiritual Practice

on November 10, 2014

In Autism and the God ConnectionWilliam Stillman correlates “autistic repetitious activities — which can increase serotonin production leading to states of altered consciousness — with identical activities deliberately engaged for spiritual gratification by those of religious standing: Gregorian chants, reciting the Rosary, the ecstasies of the whirling Sufi dervishes, shamanic drumming ceremonies, and the rhythmic rituals of certain tribes. It is incongruent that such spiritual repetition equals mantra, but autistic repetition equals stimming.”

Following up on my post from last week, Autism as Meditation, I invite you to view the two videos linked below. Consider how our ideas about what we are seeing and hearing define it as spiritual practice or disorder.

Whirling to Touch the Divine

“Whirling is a way to reconnect with a deeper nature inside ourselves,” announces the speaker in the video linked below.

Sufi Whirling

Autistic Girl Spinning

When autistic children spin, it is “obsessive-compulsive behavior.”  An undesirable stim.  Just plain weird.

Autistic Girl Spinning Beauty

It’s all how you look at it.

If you are noticing that you have beliefs about your autistic or neurodiverget child that you want to change, here’s how.

1.  Make a list of what you believe about your child (or yourself.) You may include items such as:

  • My life will always be difficult (with this child).
  • My child does a lot of really weird stuff.
  • My child will never _______________.
  • My child always _______________.
  • I’m a bad parent (because ________________).

2.  Give each statement a validity rating on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is not true at all and 10 is very true or very intense.

This is a subjective, internal rating of the intensity of feeling you have about the truth of the statement.  When you ask yourself, “How true is this for me?” write down the number that pops into your head.
3.  Use the basic EFT recipe to begin shifting the hold these beliefs have on you.

Do a round (or more) of tapping using as many of the following phrases. Modify the statements or add your own to accommodate your own individual feelings.

  • Even though my life will always be difficult, I’m still a good person.
  • Even though my child will never ________, I can love him AND myself anyway.
  • Even though I’m a bad parent because I _________, I’m doing my best and that’s enough for now.
  • Even though my child always _________ and it’s so (frustrating, embarrassing, painful), I choose to love her and myself anyway.

4.  After a few rounds of tapping, give each statement a validity rating again.

Are your feelings less intense or more? As you tapped, did memories or feelings come up? If yes, you can continue tapping on these new feelings. If the memories or feelings are very intense, breathe deeply, imagining the breath flowing into your heart. Stop tapping if this feels right. 

5.  If the feelings are less intense, look at the statements again.

Consider how you can begin shifting your beliefs. Start small! Choose something positive and new that you can believe and that you can see relatively quickly. Perhaps you can envision your child putting on one article of clothing without protest or allowing you to place a new food on his plate. If you don’t believe that your child will get dressed easily, can you believe that there is a possibility that she will be more cooperative.

6.  Continue to believe a new impossible thing every day.

Need help changing how you see your child?

I offer a support group and coaching that shows you how. 

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