How I Started Treating Autism
I started working with autism in 2005. I am self-taught as I did not know where I could get training in how to treat autism with complementary therapies. One day I received a call from one of my friends, who owned a crystal shop. She told me that she just had a support worker come in the shop to ask if she would be willing to treat an autistic lady in her twenties with aromatherapy massage. My friend replied that she didn’t have any experience in treating autism, but that she might know of someone who would. That someone was me. She told the support worker that she would contact me and so she did. She told me that she was nervous about doing the treatment herself as she had no experience in treating autism. I told her that I didn’t either, but that I was willing to give it a try. So I contacted the support worker to say that I would do the treatment.
The support worker was delighted. I asked her why she wanted a complementary treatment and how she thought that I could be of help. The support worker then started to give me the full story of the autistic lady. She told me that this lady suffered from very hard skin on the side of her big toes, and every time she needed treatment on her toes, she had to be sedated as she would not let anybody near her feet, let alone touch them. So, she wanted me to try and relax her and, if possible, try some aromatherapy massage on her feet. She also mentioned that the autistic lady was non-verbal and in a wheelchair. We agreed a day and time for them to come to me. It was a Monday morning at 10.00am.
On that Monday morning, I felt nervous and excited at the same time. I decided to do the treatment in my front room for two reasons : one, I wanted the room to look as homely as possible, not to scare the patient off, and two, this room had an easier access for the wheelchair. I carried out a risk assessment to make sure that everyone would be safe. Then, I charged myself and the room with Reiki energy, using symbols on the ceiling, walls, floor and furniture. I called upon my Reiki guides and those of the autistic young lady. I delivered a consultation form to the support worker a few days earlier, so it would be ready for me when they came as I did not want the autistic lady to have to wait in anticipation while we had to fill in forms. Everything turned out really well.
When MC, the autistic young lady and her support worker arrived, I showed them into the front room, reassuring MC all the time by talking very gently to her. Then I got MC to come out of her wheelchair, which is her comfort zone, and sit down on the chaise longue. I had some nice soft music playing. I made very good eye contact with MC. In a very gentle voice, I asked her if it would be ok for me to take her shoes and socks off. In agreement, MC lifted one leg at a time for me to take shoe and sock off. The support worker was amazed ! Then I explained to MC that I was going to massage some oil onto her feet. She didn’t resist to this, so I carried on massaging her feet while channeling Reiki into her, at all times reassuring her by gently talking to her. I also kept doing visuals of her to sense her reaction to what I was doing. I made sure I was smiling at all times and channeling Reiki energy. She was looking around the room and started humming for a short while. The support worker told me that these were MC’s happy sounds.
The treatment was like this throughout and lasted for 30 minutes. Then I asked MC if it was ok to put her socks and shoes back on. She let me. I thanked MC for coming to me and for letting me massage her. I also gave feedback to the support worker, who was very happy with the outcome and straightaway re-booked for the following Monday.
After the treatment, I did reflective practice on the treatment that I carried out and I came to the conclusion that I did not want to work in a spa, but that I wanted a different challenge and I knew that treating autism was what I wanted to do ! It felt so rewarding, during the treatment and afterwards. I looked up courses for complementary therapists on how to treat autism, but could not find any. All I could do was use the experience I had with MC. I did feel very confident in treating autism and over the years, more and more clients started coming to me. Now I treat three full days a week, with most of my clients having two to three treatments a week.
I treat my clients fifty two weeks a year, and this is what they need : continuity. You as a therapist also need that continuity. It gives your client base stability as well.
I hope my story will encourage some of you out there to consider treating autism within your work. I give a one-day workshop on treating autism, as mentioned on my website :
Reiki love and blessings,