The Importance of a Hug: Lesson Learned from Autistic Temple Grandin
What exactly does a hug do for a person internally? How does a hug help you have good emotional health? As Christians what role can giving warm, accepting hugs do for our kids, our aging parents, and even our friends?
I was privileged to watch the dvd based on Temple Grandin’s life recently. Watch a trailer here.
Temple Grandin is an autistic woman who thinks in pictures. She credits her achievements to her autism, stating that how she thinks has enabled her to learn the sensitivities of animals.
What does this movie have to do with the importance of a hug?
Temple is perplexed as to why the cattle stop mooing and seem to be calmed down when they are put in a restraining contraption for being innoculated. She asks in desperation why they stopped mooing.
The cattle-hand responds matter-of-factly, “They like it. It gentles them.”
The contraption is a wooden device that is closed gently on their bodies so it was dubbed a “squeeze-machine.”
Later when Temple is upset by a change in her bedroom, she goes wild and rushes out to the squeeze-machine. She demands for her aunt to close it on her. “Tighter, tighter,” she yells. Then she begins to take deep breaths and she is calmed down.
Temple discovered that the squeeze machine worked for her too. She ends up making a squeeze-machine for herself to keep in her dorm room when she goes off to college.
Later in the movie, when she is explaining the feeling that the squeeze machine gives her, she says, “I always wondered what it feels like for children to be hugged by their mothers.”
You see, Temple was always opposed to physical touch and refused hugs or other forms of human contact. This is often characteristic of autistic children.
I immediately thought of the importance of a hug to our emotional health. It is like a wire that is disconnected getting reconnected.
Here are some other ideas you might be interested in to help promote healthy emotions.
Go hug someone you love . . . and do it daily. Help to reconnect whatever wire might be disconnected for them. And while you are at it, you just might reconnect a wire in you too.
You can never underestimate the importance of a hug. It really helps to create emotional wellness – although no one would ever articulate it that way!
What has been your experience with giving or receiving hugs?