∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ A Mindfulness Exercise for Teens on the Autistic Spectrum ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

∞ The Flip Side ∞

This emotionally intelligent Mindfulness exercise for those on the autistic spectrum was born today out of a lovely session with a teenage girl. We introduced “The Flip Side”. We used a coin, we looked at both sides of it – heads and tails, we gently watched how it flips. Previous to this she had spoken about what to do with her worrying thoughts or how to control them. She then chose which side represented worrying negative thoughts and which side positive (her words were “to have faith that it all works out good in the end”).

Before we started this mindfulness exercise we discussed in a literal way the probability of flipping a coin in that it is unpredictable how many times it may land on the same side but it will always flip and land on the other at some point. We used this as an analogy for our worrying thoughts, it was explained (with skilled language) that she can use it as a visual picture when she needs to and that just like flipping the coin she can imagine flipping her thoughts from let’s say – tails to heads – negative to positive – and that some thoughts may take a bit more flipping time, but as probability has it they always will. Especially the more calmer and relaxed we become and as it happens the more focused and relaxed she became the more opportunities to explore both sides of the coin came our way.

She then spent some time flipping the coin and started to read the probability and mindfully react to the flips. Throughout the session when it was flipping tails in succession we would take a breath and calmly keep on flipping, realising it always did turn to heads ‘in the end’. If it was flipping heads for some time and this was becoming exciting, when it turned to tails, we enjoyed the challenge of seeing where it would flip next rather than feeling disappointment. The energy while we were in this time changed, everything felt calm, centered and connected. There was an innate sense of self-regulation as unpredictability became something to embrace and enjoy.

The whole mindfulness exercise seemed to work well for this young lady so next week I may use it again to start learning how to manage and control other Interoceptive feelings like ‘calm’ and ‘upset’ or ‘connected’ and ‘overloaded’

I especially liked this exercise for the therapeutic quality of teaching emotional development in young adults as it has an unpredictable – predictable outcome which can be seen literally, well understood and calmly received. It has a soothing spinney type of visual connected to it, as well as a sense of safety for there is always an outcome and they are in control of the exercise. It also created the space for her intuition and connection to feeling shine through; this showed by the clarity and improvement of her emotional language and expression by the end of the session.

Mindfulness for emotional regulation, greater understanding and behaviour management can be a powerful tool for developing emotional intelligence, self-regulation and intuitive harmony. This an integral part of our teacher training course.

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