Autism spectrum disorders are often noted for symptoms associated with sensory disorders. Many individuals on the spectrum experience sensory processing disorders. For some, being touched may bring intolerable discomfort. For others, sensory information is blocked or obscured so that the individual seeks stimulation more than those who develop typically. Massage therapy can be of extreme benefit to these individuals. Massage therapy addresses the specific sensory disorders associated with autism and seeks to provide a systematic desensitization to pain through touch. Gentle massage and deep tissue massage for joints has been proven to help individuals on the spectrum overcome sensory processing disorders to lead a more normal life.
Sensory massage for individuals with autism is based on the premise that the sensory receptors are immature and require development. The massage that is administered is geared toward producing positive sensory input and healing receptors which are affected by the disorder. By applying deep pressure to the joints and surrounding tissue, individuals with autism report intense relief of bothersome symptoms as well as reduction in mal-adaptive self-stimulating behaviors. This is the goal of treatment for any person who seeks relief through massage therapy.
Touch is hardwired to the brain to evoke and protect emotion. Individuals with autism have impairments of varying degrees to these internal systems, and therefore must be addressed individually. For example, when a client is extremely sensitive to light touch, they may experience high anxiety. Anxiety is tied to fear, anger and other feelings. Therefore, a deep tissue massage, which targets affected joints, is in order for a client sensitive to light touch. This bypasses the intrusive areas and provides intense relief without emotional duress or anxiety. Along with the underlying issues related to tactile stress, the outward behaviors are also targeted. Children who are highly sensitive to sensory stimuli may have a tendency toward mal-adaptive behaviors, such as tantrums and aggression. They may be likely to self-injure, throw things and lash out at others due to their extreme discomfort. Massage therapy for individuals with autism offers an ideal alternative to these challenges.
Massage therapy is not often covered by mainstream insurance companies. However, if it is recommended by an occupational therapist and covered in an individualized education plan (IEP) as a beneficial strategy to improve comfort and learning, it may be covered by state costs. Therefore, it is important to cover these bases while researching therapy options. If massage therapy is recommended, it can be pursued through the state channels, such as the school, regional center or occupational therapist. If the therapy is not recommended under these umbrellas, there are private centers available for treatment.
Treatment centers which offer private sessions should be approached with caution. This is not to say that there is concern for their validity, but qualifications should be thoroughly examined. Massage therapists who do not have experience with autism should not be considered. Massage therapy for individuals with autism is a calculated treatment that could cause harm if improperly administered. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the child to seek out professionals with autism experience. As an increasingly popular treatment for autism, massage therapists who specialize in this treatment should not be difficult to locate.
Sessions can cost anywhere between $25 – $200 for treatment. This is determined by the age of the client, the length of the session and the credentials of the providing professional. These costs can be covered by insurance if specified in the plan or specifically recommended by a treating physician (preferably a neurologist). Once a center and professional have been chosen, results should be apparent in less than one month. Treatment typically lasts at least one year or longer.
You should check out these autism therapies as well.
1). Chelation Therapy And Autism
2). Music Therapy For Autism
3). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Autism
4). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
5). Aversive Therapy for Autism
6). Animal Assisted Therapy