WHAT IS TOUCH THERAPY?
Touch therapy is practiced by health-care professionals who have received specialized training to develop their skills in providing pediatric massage therapy. Such health-care professionals are Certified Pediatric Massage Therapists (CPMT).
A CPMT works with a child’s parents/guardians to assist them with techniques to provide appropriate and nurturing touch for their child. The CPMT always practices with a parent/guardian or another adult present. The child remains clothed and must give permission to be touched.
A CPMT uses nurturing touch and gentle and soothing glides during the session. For a child with tactile sensitivities, a CPMT varies pressure and utilizes different textures before gradually using her hands.
WHY TOUCH THERAPY?
Pediatric massage is an evidenced-based therapy for children with autism. Touch therapy for children with autism:
- may decrease tension and promote relaxation;
- may help with body awareness;
- may decrease inattentiveness;
- may help a child to become more accustomed to tactile stimulation;
- may help with gastrointestinal issues;
- may increase healthy social boundaries;
- may decrease issues with sleeping; and
- may increase bonding and trust with caregivers.
“Children with autism are often described as extremely sensitive to touch; they often dislike being touched. In spite of this, however, we have noted that they love being massaged, maybe because, unlike random touching in social situations, massaging is predictable.” — Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami School of Medicine, in Touch
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