Autism and a brief look at the benefits of massage

Research shows that 1 in every 100 people are diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder. This means that 695,000 people in the UK have a diagnosis. Recently I’ve started assisting families who have autistic children. I’m not suggesting that massage is the answer for all, but as an alternative therapy, I would highly recommend that massage is looked into as an option.

Whenau massage is given to someone it has a number of amazing effects on the body and mind. Not only does it feel really nice, but it also has a wonderful effect on both the receiver and giver of the massage.

Relaxing- Massage creates a reaction in the chemicals in the body and produces melatonin. Melatonin assists with relaxing and sleep and can be prescribed to aid sleep and the ability to wind down. I feel that a more natural way of receiving the melatonin has got to be through the power of touch and massage, rather than through administering drugs.

Alertness and focus- Massage also creates other chemical reactions within us called dopamine and serotonin. These 2 provide an opportunity for a child to become a little more aware and conscious of the world around them.

De-stressed and less anxious- When we receive a massage, it can decrease production of the hormone cortisol. This is the hormone that heightens our stress levels, which can have an effect how we behave.

Pain relief- Massage increases the flow of blood and oxygen to targeted areas. This provides a warm feeling and can reduce pain levels.

Bonding and social interaction- Massage offers a wonderful sense of feelings. Massage releases a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone makes us feel loved, gives us a sense of belonging, provides us with an awareness of feeling valued and helps us to strengthen and reconnect with others and build upon known relationships.

Providing the therapy- Whether it’s a parent or sibling giving the massage or child to child experience, the benefits of providing the nurturing touch to someone else can give a real sense of ownership, confidence, contentment and fulfillment, knowing that you are providing a relaxing and calming therapy to another person.

Sensory stimulation- Massage can vary and be tailored to individual likes and dislikes. Massage can be administered using firm or soft touch, fast or slow, with or without oils and through finding out more, can be given on specific areas of the body.

Massage therapy practitioners may vary on what they are able to offer so you may need to contact a few before finding the right person. As a practitioner myself, I provided sessions and classes to suit the needs of the child and their family, including groups, 1:1’s, home visits and workshops.

I hope you found this helpful and it assists you in your decision to try this therapy with your child. I am happy to support you further or answer any questions that you may have.


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