ZocdocAnswersIs massage therapy good for autistic children?

Question

Is massage therapy good for autistic children?

My eight-year-old daughter is autistic. Could massage therapy help?

Answer

I am sorry to hear that your daughter is autistic. This can be quite stressful, and I highly suggest that you reach out to any support groups, parenting groups, or other resources that might be available to you in your community. Maximizing social functioning for children with autism is a major area of medical research. I would recommend that you discuss the various treatment possibilities with your pediatrician or the doctor who is managing your daughter's autism, as they may have some recommendations of particular therapies based on your daughter's unique situation. One area of research in autism is in the use of alternative therapies. There have been a few small studies that have looked at the use of massage therapy and touch therapy in children with autism. The rationale for these studies have been the idea that focused touch therapy may help these children overcome their touch aversion. The studies have shown some small benefits of the massage for the children in terms of improving their interactions with others and their touch aversion. However, the studies are quite small and preliminary so it is difficult to draw firm conclusions. However, we can likely conclude that at least massage may be of benefit.

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