Discover how massages can be a game-changer for kids with autism! From calming anxiety to boosting sensory processing, it's a win-win.
Dive in for tips and easy steps to make massage therapy a breeze for both child and parent! ✨
Benefits of massage therapy for children with ASD
More and more evidence supports the benefits of massage or “touch therapy” for people with ASD. This might be surprising since many people with ASD reject touch, especially from strangers.
“Massages reduce child’s anxiety, improve social communication, and favor formation of closeness and bonds with the parents thus bringing the prospects for better development of the child.”
🙇🏻 Stress reduction and improved mood
Touches, warm and affectionate ones, light up mood-boosting areas like the insular cortex in your brain.
This part of the brain handles emotions, and when activated by touch therapy, it helps dial down stress hormones like cortisol while ramping up mood-regulating chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
So, those cuddles and massages aren't just momentary feel-goods; they're like long-lasting mood boosts!
"It is proven to increase dopamine (the feel-good hormone) and decrease cortisol (the stress hormone). This helps regulate anxiety and stress levels that can become imbalanced due to social, family, and academic pressures." 💡Nationwide Childrens Org
⏰ Enhanced sleep quality
Massage can also stimulate the vagus nerve, which affects other body outputs (i.e., the heart). This can decrease heart rate, allowing people with ASD to focus more and sleep better.
Furthermore, it can decrease the incidence of seizures, which are common in 1/3 of patients with ASD.
🤗 Potential Improvements in social and linguistic skills
Some studies indicate that touch therapy not only aids in managing muscle spasms and social anxiety in ASD patients but also holds the potential to enhance their linguistic and social abilities.
When integrated with other therapeutic approaches, it can be particularly beneficial.
6 easy steps for starting a massage for children with autism
1. Create a calming environment
Set the stage with soft lighting, soothing music, and comfortable surroundings to help your child relax using the Storybook App.
2. Use a natural massage oil
Opt for natural oils to avoid artificial fragrances that may cause sensitivity.
3. Combine stories with massages!
Engage your child by playing stories while gently massaging, creating a comforting and enjoyable experience.
Keep touches soft and light and focus on the child's body. Vary the massage all over the body according to your little one's needs. See how it works! 👀
4. Avoid massaging the head too much to prevent overstimulation
Focus on gentle touches across the body, adapting the massage to your child's preferences and needs. Limit massaging the head to prevent overstimulation and ensure a comfortable experience.
5. Focus on one activity at a time
Keep the massage routine simple and focused, allowing time between sessions for relaxation and avoiding pressure.
- Nationwide Children's Hospital. (2016, February). Benefits of Massage Therapy for Children. Retrieved from https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2016/02/benefits-of-massage-therapy-for-children
- Kuehn, E. (2016). Research into our Sense of Touch Leads to New Treatments for Autism. Harvard University. Retrieved from https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2016/research-into-our-sense-of-touch-leads-to-new-treatments-for-autism/