Autistic People Love to Get a Massage Too
It’s a myth that touching people with autism can trigger them. In fact, the opposite can be true. Massage may be a lovely way to calm and soothe any autistic child – and de-stress an adult. Of course, autistic people love to get a massage too.
Although one aspect of life on the autistic spectrum is a sensory malfunction, this can mean an aversion to certain sights, sounds, smells, or touches. Many parents and massage therapists still find massage therapy enjoyed by children on the spectrum.
People with autism spectrum disorders often struggle with sensitivities to all sorts of sensory stimuli. Some even experience ‘pain amplification,’ where their nerves over-report, and normal sensations can actually feel painful.
At the same time, many people have also found that giving massage can comfort autistic children. It can help them enjoy the power of a touch, which we all need. And it also gives them the experience of being touched in a non-threatening way.
We All Need a Nurturing Touch
Massage therapy is a safe way to meet a basic human need for safe, nurturing contact, and it can have some amazing results. We all need the comfort of nurturing touch. Especially for anyone on the autism spectrum, specialized sessions of touch therapy and massage therapy could be the way forward.
Massage provides a positive experience of nurturing touch. The Autism Society of America has said that up to two-thirds could reduce the cost of an autistic child’s care over a lifetime if a massage and other early interventions are put in place, together with early diagnosis.
Making Medical Appointments Less Frightening
Unfamiliar surroundings can make severely autistic people withdrawn or confused. This may include the doctor’s office, a dentist, or a hospital. Imagine how frightening this can be if you are a child dealing with the stress of trying to take in new sensory information simultaneously.
Massage alone won’t make an autistic person less scared of what will happen in the doctor’s waiting room. But it can introduce them to a different type of semi-clinical setting where they get to experience a pleasurable thing. This can, in turn, lead them to feel less frightened of clinics or hospitals. And they can avoid thinking that medical appointments will lead to something unpleasant.
It also reduces their anxiety and stress, making any unexpected change in routine and surroundings less traumatic.
Treating Every Child as an Individual
Finding a qualified pediatric massage therapist ensures your autistic child gets a good, worthwhile massage. They will have to be patient enough to get to know them as an autistic person. A massage therapist must understand their communication style and consider that everyone on the autism spectrum is unique.
There are no set techniques that guarantee to work with people on the autism spectrum. Every therapy session will be different – even for the same client. The benefits of massage are so very worth it, though. We all need a nurturing touch. And taking some of the fear away from sensory stimulation can be a great source of comfort throughout an autistic person’s life.
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