By Rachel Evans
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This is a technique that is supposed to be useful in helping people overcome things like anxiety, many phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol or drug abuse, schizophrenia, learning and eating disorders and disabilities, and other personality or mental problems a person may have.
At a very basic level, this therapy is done by waving a stick, often lit, in front of the eyes of a patient. The eyes must follow the stick. It is moved in patterns up and down and back and forth. Some wonder if autism and EMDR might have a favorable outcome as well.
This therapy was invented by a therapist by the name of Francine Shapiro. It should be noted that though she received her doctorate, the school she attended was never accredited and no longer exists. However, that does not mean that this does not work.
It seems that no one is sure how this therapy works, but some believe it might work much like the theories behind acupuncture. It is believed that EMDR might release brain energy blockages that have been causing any of the aforementioned problems a person might be experiencing. Much like the chi of the body must be running in balance and unblocked in acupuncture, the same theory is said to be true for the brain and it functions as well.
When this type of therapy is employed to help those that have gone through a traumatic experience, it is said to be useful in eliminating the stress and depression associated with the memories. For example, someone who has gone off to war and has anxiety related to what happened to him or her while there might benefit from EMDR. The therapist will have the patient recall the event in as much detail as possible while having the patient do the eye movements associated with the therapy. This can help people who have been in fires, been through rape, or any other type of trauma that might cause lifelong and severe anxiety and stress.
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How then, would this work for those who have autism? It’s not a treatment that can cure autism by any means, but it may help with specific things that are a problem for an autistic child. A big part of autism is anxiety, especially with socialization. However, other things can bring on anxiety that might be more troubling for a child with autism than for a child who does not have it. They may be scared of things that another child can rationalize. EMDR may help reduce anxiety with these children in relation to an event or a thing.
This treatment has its fair share of discreditors, but there are others who state that it works well and recommend this treatment for anxiety and traumatic experiences. The results of autism and EMDR treatment will differ from child to child, but because it is non-invasive and rather simple, it might be something worth trying when a child seems to have the paralyzing fear that is affecting their life and schedule. Try to find a practitioner who has experience in dealing with autism.
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