Anxiety and Aspergers….helping your child

I have recently become involved with a group locally who have formed a support group for parents with kids who have Aspergers or Autism and it it’s refreshing to know that I am not alone out there, struggling to cope with the needs of a ‘special’ child.

It became apparent during our meeting that one thing many parents were worried about, as well as many other issues,  was their kids anxiety levels. I could certainly relate to this as my son can get anxious about any changes in his routine and depending on the circumstances his anxiety can be that severe that he loses feeling in his body and feels ‘weird’ as he would say.  Not only does anxiety impair already tenuous social interaction and performance in kids with Aspergers and Autism but if left unchecked  can and has lead to depression too.

However there is a simple, yet extremely powerful and proven technique that these kids can learn (or parents) to help them relieve their anxiety about a specific event, memory or just the anxiety they are feeling at the moment and it’s such a lovely and comforting tool too!

This technique is know as the ‘Butterfly Hug’ and is based on EMDR which is a powerful tool recognised by the Medical profession for it’s ability to resolve trauma and anxiety and was developed by Francine Shapiro.  It’s based on something known as bi-lateral stimulation which simply means you stimulate either side of your body simultaneously. You can, for example tap each thigh, right, left, right, left etc or you can move your eyes, whilst keeping your head still, from right to left several times too.

I’m not going to go into the how this technique works however, what I will tell you is that this works! I use this technique in my practice with amazing results and for children it is such a lovely soothing technique to use!

You can teach this technique to your child in order that they can learn to self soothe or you can do this for them by taping alternative shoulders/tops of arms for them. However if your kid needs to release his anxiety at school say, they could tap on alternative  thighs as this is more discreet.

The Technique:

1. To do the butterfly hug, cross your arms across your chest, as if you were holding yourself, with your right hand resting on your left upper arm and your left hand on your right upper arm.

2. Then, as you experience whatever anxiety or fear you may have, tap alternately – left, right, left, right – at whatever speed you find comfortable (usually two taps each second). The important thing is that you alternate the taps – one side, then the other.

3. After tapping for a while, stop, take a breath, and notice how you’re feeling. You may be surprised to discover that you’re feeling somewhat calmer.

4. Continue to tap until your anxiety diminishes or reduces.

5. If your level of anxiety or fear doesn’t change at all, give yourself some more time with the butterfly hug and see what happens.

6. You can do the butterfly hug for as much or little time as you find comfortable, and as many times a day as you feel a need to settle yourself.

Such a simple technique but incredibly powerful and a simple way to help you child take control of their own anxiety. And as a result the will notice their general level of anxiety will fall as a result!

So happy tapping and if you need any further advice on how to help your child with anxiety give me a ring on 07532 110457 or drop me a line at

For further information on the Trafford Aspergers support group visit

Or read the article below.