Saturday, March 10, 2012

Massage and Autism

Most of us are aware massage therapy has many benefits, especially when our muscles are tight and nothing will do the trick to loosen those muscles like a good one-hour massage will. You might’ve even known that massage is also great for other ailments like stress, depression, and even arthritis. But did you know that massage has a lot of great benefits for people who are autistic? Keep on reading to learn more!

People with traits that fall in the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can benefit in many ways from massage. These benefits can include improving sleep, calming stress, addressing problems with muscle tone, increased ability to stay focused and interact with others. A large percentage of autistic people have an aversion to touch. “So how can they handle a one-hour massage?” you may be asking yourself… Well, they don’t start out with a one-hour massage. The therapist will start out just getting the person used to being touched and overtime the individual will get more and more used to this type of interaction and could eventually have a full 30 minute massage!

In a non-therapeutic setting, touching one another is usually a much lighter touch. Social interactions can be very over-stimulating for an autistic person, which can create a negative response from them. Firmer touch is less stimulating and more calming for an autistic person and that makes it easier for them to tolerate being touched. Routine is also very important to keeping a calm state of mind for an autistic person, therefore having a set massage at the same time each week creates an even more healing setting for the client. There have been numerous studies done and the results showed that autistic children who were massaged regularly had a much larger ability to receive touch and had more regular sleep patterns than the control group. Parents who are taught this special form of massage and massaged their children every evening for 15 minutes saw an even greater progress made. 

This insightful information was gathered from a lady named Tina Allen on her LiddleKidz website:
What is not so commonly known is that many autistic children have significantly lower levels of Oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone, which is associated with emotional connections and feelings of love. It can cause feelings of warmth and relaxation and a decrease in stress. Numerous research studies have proven that Oxytocin is released in our bodies during, and after, receiving nurturing touch. A 2007 study reported that oxytocin helped autistic individuals retain the ability to evaluate the emotional significance of speech and also showed a decrease in autism spectrum repetitive behaviors. Wow! 

Some other options during a massage include adding some healing essential oils to the massage. A great [essential] oil to use would be some Ponderosa Pine Cone Essential Oil, which will promote an even greater sense of calmness and grounding. Not only does a massage benefit the person receiving it, but it also benefits the caretaker or parent. Imagine their child being able to receive a 30-minute massage while the parent also receives a massage. Talk about a win-win situation. Both of them come out feeling more relaxed, calm, and loving…. And that is the recipe for a better a day!

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