Massage Therapy for Autistic Children

The Touch Research Institute’s Results By Shirley Vanderbilt Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, February/March 2003. Copyright 2003. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved. Autism is on the rise, and with it comes more heartache for parents and higher costs for the school system. Statistics from a 1999 state report from California showed a nearly 300 percent increase in cases reported from 1987 to 1998.1 Researchers estimate as many as one in 200 children are affected by the disorder.2 Editor’s note: Since this article was originally published, a study in the Archives of General Psychiatry (September 2006) revealed that babies born to men between the ages of 40 and 49 are nearly six times more likely to develop autism than children born to men under 30, regardless of the mother’s age. Researchers are scrambling to uncover causes and put a halt to this increase, along with addressing the symptoms of autism, including abnormal response to sensory stimuli, limited attention span, excessive off-task behavior and touch aversion.3 Autism is a brain disorder, usually diagnosed by age 2, in which the child fails to develop language and normal social interaction skills. Withdrawal from social contact and aberrant behavior are common. Within the classroom, educators have used behavior modification, structured settings and social skills conditioning with minimal effect. And in the home, some parents have tried the gamut of treatments, conventional and alternative, in an attempt to restore what many experts postulate may be a permanently damaged brain. Moderate success has been achieved with vitamin B6 supplements, sometimes resulting in improvement in speech, behavior and physiological measures.4 Clinical trials...

Massage Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Massage therapy can be a welcome respite – complete with clinically proven, wide-ranging benefits – to those with cerebral palsy who may, at times, endure a seemingly endless regimen of tests, treatments, surgeries, and medications. Massage therapy is applied in a painless and comforting way to treat, heal and balance the mind, body and soul. Those pursuing massage do so as a complement to conventional medicine, as an alternative intervention, or for well-being. Mind Massage can be helpful to those struggling with depression, attention-deficit, anxiety or stress. It can bring clients to a neutral state of momentary peace-of-mind, and leave them feeling happier, more focused, and ready to embrace life’s next challenge with a renewed sense of peace and vigor. Body Massage therapy has many clinically-proven therapeutic and rehabilitative benefits to the body’s musculoskeletal, lymphatic and circulatory system. Some deep forms of massage release fibrous bands that form between tissues and organs. Light and superficial forms of massage can interrupt pain perception experienced in chronic pain. Massage can aid the circulatory system by facilitating oxygen and nutrients to tissues and vital organs. This form of therapy is also thought to stimulate the lymph system into releasing toxins. Some believe massage can release endorphins, which aid the body’s natural pain killers. Some massage techniques use passive exercise and stretching aimed at improving range-of-motion and stretching atrophied muscles. Massage is also believed to assist with bloating, inflammation, water retention, and sluggish metabolisms. With so many positive effects, it comes as little surprise that, for many, massage has become an important part of warm-up, training, warm-downs, rehabilitation, well-being, and injury recovery. Soul...