Never underestimate the power of simplicity. Knowing the outcome of this story I am about to share also just underscores how important the foundation of the 1,2,3 is and that is to get the breathing down and not to progress further until they do, as Doug has always said. Not to force our agenda or outcome on the client and let the session be determined by the client. I did not have a choice with this new client. I did not really know what to expect when I had arranged the initial session with his mother. She was keen to work with me using functional medicine because her son is autistic and had been suffering from gastro-intestinal issues for a long time and “being stuck in fight or flight” as his mum described to me. He is 12 and the eldest three boys. He was in a special school that catered to his learning abilities. He liked school but he was anxious often and didn’t sit still much. She explained to me that he was incredibly sensitive. She would have to give him melatonin and some other sleep aids to get him to sleep and had been doing that for at least a year.
His autism was the result of being given a brand of antibiotics on Day 1 of his life outside of the womb because the doctors had thought there was a urinary tract infection. I suspect his vitals were showing failure to thrive because of an infection. They had given a strong type of antibiotic, I don’t really know which one, neither does the mum, but I suspect it could have been Cipro, belonging to a group called flouroquinolones, which have been known to be toxic to even adults after 1 dose given their black box label. They are routinely given for prostate and urinary tract infections so I am guessing it was that.
I have treated autistic children before but I was still nervous, as I always get before a consultation of this kind. I had activated myself just before to be able to give my best and keep things clear. I was still not prepared, or so I thought. In came my client and his mother and she greeted me and asked him to. He was wildly looking all over the place with his hands balled into fists near his face with the fingers moving and clawing occasionally. He didn’t speak, but just moaned instead and when he did say hello, he said it to the ceiling in a moan. The words were not decipherable.
They both sat on the sofa and I started asking some questions I directed towards him but soon gave up with that because he never made eye contact with me, or answered me. His mum would answer in a very cheery response, to assure me that this was normal and almost to send a subliminal message to me just keep talking as if it were. We carried on the conversation during which he would stand up and assume the same position as he had when he walked in with his hands balled in fists. He would moan and his mum would coax him back down. He would try to hit her and laugh when he did. She had this Mr. Miyagi ability to stop the hand or catch it, never faltering in her gaze and communication with me. We got to the end of the discussion and I said, “Okay would you like to get onto the table?” to him. He suddenly cowered on the sofa and then walked around like a frantically looking wildly all over the place, but mostly at the ceiling. I was starting to panic, aware of the time and really not sure what to do. I suddenly recalled a cranial osteopathic friend of mine treating her client through another person and suggested treating her so he could watch. She agreed, explaining to him while lying down on the plinth. He still never made eye contact with me. It was hard to remember who I was speaking to but did my best to include him in the explanations.
I managed to do the hamstring flexibility, did the diaphragm release and retested her. She was so surprised how it felt in her body and was sharing her excitement with him. That was enough to spur him to want to get on the table. He did and within moments of being on the table, he was lying as stiff as a board, mostly on his side, head looking all over, hands protecting his face and legs completely straight. He couldn’t lie down but we coaxed him with his mum holding his hands. He never made eye contact with me or her but he managed to lie on his back with his head upright. I started with just trying to get him to breathe into his belly. He could barely manage that but we kept at it and he let me place my hand on his lower belly. I started to reach for the diaphragm to do the release and he would grab my hand and try to put it on his belly. I just have to add that one of the recent developments his mum said was he beginning to enjoy things touching him, like in the shower and he would develop a hard-on easily. He had one while I was trying to do the release but I ignored it and did as quickly of a rub as a could across the rib cage and onto the sternum. I didn’t think I had done much. We did about 5 breaths, again very shallow but still much more than he did before.
Then, the most amazing thing happened. He suddenly made eye contact with me and at that moment, his entire face changed. He became a 12-year-old boy who had the most serene look on his face and his stare was locked onto my eyes. He had a slight smile and I thought he would say something. It lasted about 1 minute. I could actually see the definition and lines of his handsome face. He went back to stiffening his body, but I let him get up and walk to the sofa. He was calm but in his own world again, looking at the ceiling but not balling his fists. I took the opportunity to explain how to get his bloods done. His mum was not sure he would be able to get them done because of his potential fear. She said they will need to restrain him so I called the clinic ahead of time to make them aware. He had never had his bloods done before. I couldn’t walk down with them because I had another client. She took the script and I assured her it would be fast. In that time, he peed in his pants on the sofa.
To say I was flustered would be an understatement. I just let them leave, assuring her it was fine, and stripped the sofa so it could be cleaned. I was drenched in my own sweat and plagued with worry: worry about how the bloods went, how the session was, worried about the travelling for nearly 2 hours back on the train. As soon as I got home, I sent an email to ask how things were and to contact me to let me know. I was about to chalk the session up to be a failure after a month of not hearing anything back but then she emailed me to say that during the blood draw, he actually sat with his arm extended and let them take his blood without any problem. He walked down the street without being ushered by his mum and just held her hand. That night and for the next week, he slept without needing a melatonin tablet. His teachers had remarked on his changed behaviour. We are due for a check-up but Covid lockdown 3.0 has prevented her from traveling up and she prefers an in-person session. She had found an Elmo video on YouTube for breathing which I encouraged her to use in addition to the notes I had given her and she is doing that with her other children and husband as well. They do it as a family. He has not had the same dramatic response as he had in person but they continue to do the breathing as a family. I feel it has brought them closer and it has been a way of understanding him better. I will give an update when I next see them in April.