The word tactile means relating to the sense of touch. Infants and children have very high needs for tactile stimulation. These needs cannot be met without frequent hugs, pats, hand-holding and other reassurance of affection and care. Young children often initiate contact in the form of hugs, kisses or leaning on the caregiver, i.e., they have not learned to maintain our culture's normal social distance (about 18-24 inches). Caregivers must not ignore or appear to reject these forms of contact from children, for them, touch and physical closeness are primary and essential forms of human communication.
Hospitals and health care professionals have long understood that human touch is important for healing and overall well-being. Often times their care for patients includes back-rubs, massages or skin care routines not only to maintain skin and muscle tone, but because these are also "socially acceptable" methodes to provide human contact for it's benefits in emotional support and well-being. Similarly, patients going into or recovering from surgery will have their hands held or stroked to reduce fear or disorientation through human contact.
Health care facilities can incorporate human touch into activities for all age and ability groups. For example, infants and toddlers love games that involve touching and pointing to parts of their bodies or to articles of their clothing, reinforcing language development by linking words and concepts with the pleasurable sens of closeness and attention.
Without caring touch, some children may be damaged in their capacities to develop emotionally and socially.
Effects of touch
In the skin there are receptors for touch, pressure, vibration, pain, warmth and cold. When the skin is gently and consciously stimulated through stroking, several of these receptors are activated. This input and information travels along the nerve network to the brain, activating the release of oxitocin, a neuromodulator hormone, in the blood flow.
The touch receptors play an integral part in the organization of the human nervous system. It also gives the brain awarness of the actual condition of the whole body and these receptors have a direct connection to the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), the part of the nervous system that regulates the internal activity of the body.
The ANS is partially coordinated from cells located in the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain, located just above the brainstem (at the base), though the production of oxytocin. These cells are directly connected to the skin and mucous membrane. When the skin is stimulated, this system is activated, oxyticin is released and the effects of relaxation, increased communication, pain release and better fluids circulation are immediate.
Pediatric Massage and Autism Spectrum Disorders
Children with autism and developmental difficulties often have fragile sensory systems that are easily over-loaded, resulting in their rejection of contact. However, touch is vital to growth and fosters the development of social interaction, self-awareness and esteem, body boundaries and essential bonds between parent and child.
Autistic disorder, Rett's disorder, Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD), Asperger's Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) / Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are all conditions that benefit from the nurturing touch of pediatric massage.
Each child with an autism spectrum disorder will have his or her own individual pattern of autism. Sometimes, a child's development is delayed from birth. Other children with autism develop well before suddenly loosing social and language skills. In some children a loss of language is the impairment, in others, unusual behavior, like spending hours lining up toys, predominate.
Sessions Tailored to Your Child's Needs
Parent's/tutor's presence throughout the session is mandatory. The first session, after the evaluation, with a child and her/his family may last for 30-60 mn, then for 20-30 mn.
Please, be advised that an evaluation is required prior to treatment. The fee for the evaluation is based on the time ($45/hr) it takes to the therapist to evaluate and develop a written report and a treatment plan. A child's Medical Doctor/health care provider release (form provided), is also required.
If you wish to bill your insurance company, a prescription is needed, prior to setting up an appointment for an evaluation.
Benefits for Your Child
- Improved sleeping
- Stress reduction
- Calm muscle spasms
- Reduced hypersensitivity to touch
- Decreased hyperactivity and increased attention
- More on-task and social relatedness behaviors
- Development of trust and connectedness
- Improved motor skills & sensory functions
- Improved vocalization
- Enhanced body awareness
- Better GI functioning/relief of gas and constipation
Benefits for Parents & Caregivers
- Enhanced ability to read your child’s unique cues & rhythms of engagement
- Fosters communication with your child
- Decreased parental stress hormones
- Increased confidence in parenting skills