Massage Therapy for Children with Autism

Discover how massages can be a game-changer for kids with autism! Dive in for tips and easy steps to make massage therapy a breeze.

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Discover how massages can be a game-changer for kids with autism! From calming anxiety to boosting sensory processing, it's a win-win.

✨You're not alone in this journey! 

Dealing with autism can present challenges, but you're approaching them with remarkable courage and love. Your effort to support your child through calming massages and bedtime stories will make a profound difference in their lives.

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.

➡️If you want more information about sleep quality, visit our articles on how to get an autistic child to sleep and autism sleep problems to help you and your kid sleep better.

🤗 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. 

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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.

💖 Tip
Always ask your child for permission before starting a massage.

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.

👀 Tip
Observe without expectations how the child responds to touch.


5. Focus on one activity at a time 

Keep the massage routine simple and focused, allowing time between sessions for relaxation and avoiding pressure.

⏰ Tip
Leave intervals between sessions to prevent overwhelming the child and to build anticipation for future contact. /div>


6. Let the child know how well they did! 

Celebrate your child's efforts and participation during the massage, concluding with a comforting hug or cuddle to relax both of you.

Types of massage for autism

These massages can be beneficial for children with autism by reducing anxiety, improving sensory processing, and promoting overall comfort and well-being. 

Deep tissue massage

This involves applying firm pressure to reach deeper layers of muscles. It can help with muscle tension and promote relaxation in children with autism.

Craniosacral therapy

This gentle technique focuses on the craniosacral system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. It aims to reduce stress and improve relaxation in children with autism.

Sensory massage

This type of massage is for the child's sensory preferences and sensitivities. It may involve gentle touch, pressure, or rhythmic movements to provide sensory input and promote relaxation.

Qigong massage

Qigong massage combines massage techniques with traditional Chinese medicine principles. It balances the child's energy and promotes relaxation and overall well-being.

While everyone loves a good massage, Storybook is here to help you with massage techniques for your child with ASD. 

“Consistency is key and with continued massages, your child is sure to show great improvements both in terms of sleep, stress levels, and more.”💡Research into our Sense of Touch Leads to New Treatments for Autism

Remember, you're not alone in this journey. Your commitment to your child's well-being is truly commendable. 

3 Millions of families already trust us

The #1 app for parents and kids in more than 150 countries.

Download now!

Written By

Francisco Cornejo
CEO Storybook

Francisco Cornejo, a dynamic entrepreneur with a Masters in Communication from RMIT University in Australia, is the Co-Founder and CEO of Storybook. As a serial entrepreneur, he notably served as the Chief Marketing Officer at Honda Motors in Latin America, shaping the brand's regional presence. ‍ Passionate about family well-being and communication, Francisco leads Storybook in its mission to improve children's health globally, aiming to create positive impacts in both corporate and societal spheres.

Medically Reviewed by:

Lorena Koppel
Child Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Lorena Koppel is a distinguished Child Clinical Psychologist based in Azuay, Ecuador, with over 26 years of experience at Monte Sinaí Hospital. She specializes in treating emotional disorders in children and adolescents, providing family counseling, and integrating theoretical and practical approaches in clinical psychology.


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