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Infant massage and children with autism

Infant Massage Class
Infant Massage Class
Vicky Pitner

The practice of infant massage dates back to ancient traditions, such as with the Maoris and the Chinese cultures, as part of the child's bath ritual, Massaging infants became popular in the 1970's in the United States, after research began to show the benefits for the child and the parent, such as helping establish sleeping patterns, decreasing stress, and promotes bonding and attachment. Massage also helps infants with relieving discomfort from constipation, gas and colic. And now, research suggests that children with autism can also reap from the benefits.

It is never too late to begin massage therapy with your child.  When introducing massage to children with or without autism, the baby gains lifelong benefits of loving touch:

  • Begin with light touch and then increase pressure for a deeper massage as the child with autism allows it.
  • Some children with autism are sensitive to sensory overload and it make take time for the child to seek the touch.
  • Be respectful of non-verbal communication or cues your baby may communicate.
  • Massage can help organize and calm the central nervous system, and some children with autism prefers a quicker stroke.
  • Helps normalize muscle tone and improve blood circulation.
  • Stimulates brain development and improves sensory awareness.
  • As parents begin to respond to the babies cue's, the child cries less.
  • Children with autism may show less self-stimulating behaviors, more on task behavior, and improved social interaction during play after a massage.

Parents find that massaging their baby helps relieve their own stress and gives them special one on one time with their child. Fathers use massage as "quiet time" with his child and an opportunity to feel more competent and caring. But regardless of the reasons to massage, research from the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas, indicates that babies who receive regular massage show more capacity of developing positive relationships, sleep more deeply, suffer fewer digestive upsets, and  are over-all more content and secure.  For local classes visit