Pediatric Massage Therapy

Pediatric Massage Therapy

Human beings thrive on touch. It is the very first of our senses to appear in utero and it is the sense which is the most developed at birth.
Touch is a child's first form of communication.
Children require tactile stimulation from a variety of sources in order to fully develop their body, mind and spirit. Pediatric Massage Therapy is an integrative form of therapy using hands on techniques that incorporate tactile stimulation and nurturing touch.

Through pediatric massage therapy we can help children and adolescents with autism and neurological differences address:

  • breaking down barriers and aversion to touch/textures
  • improving nutrition and feeding patterns related to food aversions
  • improved gross & fine motor skills
  • enhancing body spatial awareness
  • awareness and understanding of appropriate and acceptable boundaries
  • appropriate social behaviors
  • decreasing anxiety and depression
  • bonding and socialization with peers, siblings, and other community members
  • increased bonding with child and caregivers
  • producing more sounds to enhance communication/speech
  • using more facial expressions
  • improving sleeping patterns

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How Does Pediatric Massage Help My Child?

The vagus nerve plays an important role for the nervous system and social function. It is shown that people with Autism and neurological differences have lowered activity in the vagus nerve.  Lowered vagus nerve activity leads to higher stress hormone (cortisol) levels. It also causes lowered levels of the feel good hormones, dopamine and serotonin. Pediatric Massage Therapy may stimulate and increase vagus nerve activity. Through this type of therapy intervention, we improve the levels of dopamine which contributes to many nervous system functions including mood, sleep, movement, and motivation.  Therapy can also increase levels of serotonin (the feel good hormone) as well as endorphins (the natural pain killers). It is common for children with autism to have an altered pain threshold. Some are very insensitive to pain and have a much higher pain threshold. It is common for children with autism to process different textures and types of touch as painful, even though neurologically typical individuals would not describe it as such. By increasing the levels of dopamine through pediatric massage therapy, we are able to address and improve pain regulation and physiological processes of things like euphoric feelings and appetite modulation. We can address and improve the proprioceptive system, which provides information helping the individual integrate touch and movement into their daily lives. The development of the brain is strengthened through tactile stimulation.  Massage and touch should be a natural part of a child's every day life.

At Triad Psych we offer pediatric massage in the form of two different service models: 

 
Type 1 is an individualized treatment session that is administered through the pediatric massage therapist based on the needs of the individual. In this type of setting, the therapist will evaluate and administer a variety of hands on techniques incorporating tactile stimulation and nurturing touch. The parent or guardian does remain present through the entire session.

 
Type 2: This other service model offered is a train the trainer program. Through parent/caregiver instruction and education, the treatment itself is actually provided directly from the parent/caregiver to the child. In this setting the pediatric massage therapist will demonstrate and teach various hands on techniques incorporating tactile stimulation and nurturing touch to the parent or other caregiver, while overseeing the implementation. This type of service model greatly contributes to the increased bonding and communication between the parent/caregiver and the child, which can then be carried over into their daily lives.