A few years ago we went to a lecture about the benefits of massage for children (and adults) with autism. We knew about the benefits of a good massage on ourselves (who doesn’t) but we had never really thought about a massage for our autistic son Ethan.
It is a common misconception that kids with autism do not want to be touched. It is not true, they just need more time to adjust as they have a heightened response to overstimulation.
The lecturer explained that the primary benefit that massage provides to autistic children is relaxation. They told us that relaxation can combat fatigue and anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve energy levels, sleep, creative ability, and the thinking process. After a soothing massage, autistic children have shown more focus and are less high strung.
My husband and I were sold. We knew the benefits were true, but then came the shocker. The lecturer was a qualified “autism massage” expert and was offering a discount package to attendees of only $150 for a 30 minute massage. They believe that kids with autism cannot be touched for too long.
We decided to try an experiment on our own. We took Ethan to the local oriental massage place that does a foot massage and body massage combination for $20 an hour. They have you lie on the message table/chair (fully clothed) and will massage your head, feet, hands and body. We told them that Ethan does not speak and that he is sensitive to touch. We didn’t mention the word “autism” as it tends to scare people.
We all went for a massage and what followed always brings a smile to my face. Ethan was apprehensive at first, but once they began massaging him, he quickly calmed down and really began enjoying himself. We brought his mp3 player to his very first massage as this always keeps him calm. He is non verbal, but the oohs and aaahs of enjoyment brought a smile to everyone’s face including the masseuse. We try and take him regularly and always try to get him the same masseuse.
The lecturer was right. A massage does have benefits. Ethan really enjoys them and is calm and relaxed afterwards. The benefits of a massage once a month is well worth the effort. It is good for your mind, soul and body and if you get one yourself at the same time, you too can spend time in nirvana.
I am sure you will find that a massage is a “luxury” you wouldn’t want to miss even if you do it yourself!