While some autistic, neurodivergent, and sensitive children are averse to touch, many enjoy physical contact.
Loving touch is a powerful way to connect with our children. It is an opportunity to be present, to really see and feel our children, and to heal.
The light touch associated with social interaction is usually what over-stimulates autistic children, causing a negative reaction. The firmer touch of massage is often pleasant and calming.
Studies at the Touch Research Institute have shown that touch therapy has many positive effects.
- Enhanced attentiveness and performance,
- Alleviation of depressive symptoms,
- Reduced pain,
- Reduced stress hormones, and
- Improved immune function.
When professional massage is not an option, we can incorporate basic massage techniques and loving touch into our daily routines at home and look for similar benefits.
Super-Basic Foot Massage
As our children are preparing for sleep and relaxing in bed, we can offer to rub their feet.
- Place a small amount of almond or olive oil in your hands and rub them together.
- Hold one foot firmly and begin stroking the foot from ankle to toes in long, smooth strokes.
- Adjust the pressure of your touch to keep your child comfortable.
- Use your thumbs to massage the sole of the foot.
- Support the foot with one hand and gently wiggle and pull each toe.
- Stroke the whole foot again, then do the same with the other foot.
As we massage our child’s feet, it is helpful to breathe deeply and slowly, to smile. In doing so, the becomes a time to be together in a peaceful, loving way.