Creative Meditation

Is meditation the way forward to help people with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) deal with anxiety?

Sam grabs and holds on to people, Alex shouts and shows his aggressive face, Mary cries, Barry takes it out on parents when he goes home at night and David won’t get in the taxi to go home at the end of a day.

Supporting people with anxiety is all in a day’s work for staff who work with MacIntyre and we as an organisation have Great Interactions to help us interact with the people we support in a person centred way and now we also have PBS (Positive Behaviour Support) for early interventions. But how often do we have strategies that enable people to help themselves? Often we look for triggers and then step in to stop escalation.

Community Learning Facilitator Caroline at Bucks No Limits is trialling meditation with David who is very wary of new people and becomes very anxious in new surroundings. The sessions are based on Caroline’s own experience using Mindfulness and, rather than sitting with legs crossed in a quiet room, Caroline chose walking meditation so that she could work alongside David. In this way David was not instructed to carry out a movement, instead he followed and was given the time to slowly build his confidence until he could carry out the meditation on his own.

Walking meditation involves choosing a short route where you can walk up and back for about ten regular paces. But it’s not just pacing, with each step you connect with feelings in your foot. Is the foot cold or warm, how do the toes feel when they push off the floor, how does the heel feel when placed on the floor? This encourages connection with your body and gives your mind a rest from the constant barrage of thoughts that go round and round. Try it for yourself!

Caroline has reported that David is a lot calmer since she started the sessions and that he is slightly more open with people he doesn’t know.

Early days but I think we may be on to something!!

Debra Tennant
Programme Coordinator
No limits Buckinghamshire

Comments

  • Leander McFadden says:

    Hi Debra

    Thank you for sharing

    This approach sounds excellent, I think we all know the feeling of thoughts going round and round and is something we could all try…

    Long may this approach work for David

  • Tess Marshall says:

    What a great idea this is. I’m not on the spectrum but if I didn’t do my regular breathing meditation I don’t know how I could even function. Choosing a walking meditation for David looks like an excellent approach.

  • Emma Killick says:

    Hi Debra – great blog and you’re right we often focus our time and energies on trying to make things better when perhaps we should be also thinking about helping people to learn coping mechanisms and therefore become more resilient. I like the idea of Walking Meditation and wish David every success! Well done Caroline.

  • Kate Webb says:

    How very interesting! Thankyou for sharing and please keep us posted on progress. We have mindfulness workshops for staff after school so maybe we can learn from you and develop this for our students.

  • Shirley wright says:

    I myself regularly meditate and I find it’s a useful tool to alliviate anxiety and stress. I think it’s a brilliant idea introducing this into the people we support,it’s a very calming way to distract from anxious thoughts .I am pleased it’s helping David and making his life richer for it .

  • Jeremy Bugden says:

    Excellent blog, thank you. You can almost sense the worries /anxiety fall away when doing something like walking meditation. People seem to be able to talk, or use Makaton, about what they are worrying about, or what has stressed them, often much easier when doing something like; swimming, rambling, table tennis or art and crafts. Another tip is try to do this: relate a memory of a favourite place or activity (beach, holiday, picnic etc..) – find an easy to touch pressure point like the underside of your wrist, close your eyes and think of (for example) the waves coming over the pebbles on a beach – as you apply pressure with a finger or thumb. Now repeat this yourself – it does work for some people. Thanks again.

  • Lynda says:

    That sounds great Caroline, well done for be creative and trying it! Look forward to hearing more about your sessions with David.

  • Darren Bowen says:

    I practice meditation both sitting and walking,

    Once you get in to it my goodness does it open all your eyes. Without a shadow of doubt meditation (the art of slowing down and looking both inside and out), is the way forward in my book. It can help with anxieties, depression, challenging behavior and all sorts of mental strains and stress.

    It is really effective to do it in a group and then share and learn from each experience. This idea of practicing meditation with people with ASD is not entirely new. However, it is fantastic that it is being entertained and practiced within the company.

    The results of western meditation studies carried out in controlled scientific environments/conditions speak for themselves. Fantastic work!

    If you are interested in meditation both sitting and standing and want to take it further or need more reading matter on the subject – please check the videos out from this site https://www.sirimangalo.org/ – they are all free on You Tube and he provides step by step instructions on how to do both. Plus there is a booklet you can download that may help.

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