Monday, March 5, 2012

Autistic Clients and the Value of Touch Therapy

Diagnoses of developmental disorders such as autism are increasing at an astounding rate, prompting many to wonder what progress is being made towards finding a cure. Since the cause of the disorder is still a bit of a mystery, this has proven to be quite a challenge for the medical community. Characteristics and symptoms of autism can vary from person to person, and may even change over time. Affecting millions of people throughout the United States, autism impairs communication skills and behavior associated with social interaction. Since symptoms typically first appear in young children, massage therapists can take this opportunity to help yet another segment of the community in need of a therapeutic touch.

Working with autistic clients can be challenging for a therapist who is ill prepared. Since the disorder can affect each person differently, each treatment must be custom-made for each client; what works for one person may not help another. Testing different methods and techniques is the only way to determine which treatment plan will be most effective for your autistic clients. The primary goal should be to enhance relaxation in order to be able to proceed further with deeper massage strokes.

Research has shown that massage therapy is effective in reducing the severity of autism's symptoms, however many people with autism are unresponsive to traditional methods, which means that massage therapists should be creative when developing a treatment strategy. Regular massage therapy sessions can increase attention span, relieve anxiety associated with social situations, and can even have a positive influence on one of the most common autism symptoms - an aversion to touch.

It's important for massage therapists to realize the impact they can have on an autistic child's life and development. Learn more about this disorder and what you can do to help normalize the behavior of an autistic child.

This article was prepared for Learn more about massage therapy and massage therapy continuing education programs

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