Massage for Autism
I have just been on a CPD course called “Holistic therapies for those on the Autistic Spectrum”. It was an eye opening in terms of understanding what Autism is. It is a lifelong developmental disability. It manifests as impairments in social interaction, communication, behaviour and interests of an Autistic person and yet each individual will have their own pattern of autism hence the label Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In other word they are unique in their own right. Slow processing, extreme stress and anxiety are common among autistic people. Some may have unusual reactions to sensory information. According to the National Autistic Society (NAS) there are around 700,000 people the UK are on the autism spectrum.
Although it is a lifelong disability, something can be done to alleviate the distress and manage daily living. This is where complementary therapy comes in. There are now emerging studies which demonstrate that massage can help reduce stress and anxiety. According to Virginia Cowen (PhD), a systematic approach to massage is very important for children with ASD. When they learn what to expect, they are better able to relax and receive massage. Different research on massage noted that they have better sleep patterns, improve receptivity to touch, less aggressive behaviour and fewer displays of self-stimulating behaviours.
As ASD individuals are different from one another, no single type of massage is “right” or “the best” for everyone. The many possible presentations of autism indicate many possible variations in treatment. Virginia Cowen reiterated that a therapist has to be flexible and adaptable in their approach.