Holistic Health & Bodywork
Numerous research studies overseen by Dr. Tiffany Field and published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders have proven massage for autism as a beneficial and effective complimentary therapy for ASD and ADHD.
Children with ASD have many blocks along their energy channels (meridians), especially where the senses open up. Qigong massage and Traditional Thai massage follows the energy channels and strives to remove energy blocks and fill the channels with energy and blood. Many scientific, peer reviewed journals (AJOT, JACM, AJCM) have published research findings acknowledging qigong massage and traditional Thai massage as beneficial complimentary treatments for ASD.
Dr. John Upledger's research and hands on experience with children with autism, which is supported by Johns Hopkins University, found elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the CSF of autistic patients. What is seen as stereotypical autistic behavior was believed by Upledger to be the effects of the inner strain of the membrane surrounding the brain and inner structures such as the hypothalamus and RAS which can irritate the ANS and cause hypersensitivity to neurons, glial cells, and neurological pathways. The abnormal pressure in the brain can also affect the limbic system and lead to toxicity and endocrine system disruption. CST decreases structural strain on their CNS and enhances the balance of the meningeal layers surrounding the brain, the blood, and CSF moving into and out of the cranium and throughout the brain. This can flush toxins and inflammation away from the brain, thus increasing the function of the neurons and neurological pathways.
-Craniosacral Therapy and the Reversal of Pathogenic Processes Study Guide, Upledger Institute Publishing, 2005
Evidence suggests that of all the senses affected by autism, touch has the most impact on social delay. Such sensory problems can lead to stereotypical autistic behaviors such as spinning, rocking, chewing on objects, screaming, covering ears, and hand-flapping.
Techniques such as pressure-touch, or use of a mechanical squeeze machine as Dr. Temple Grandin described in her book Emergencee: Labled Autistic, can offer relief from sensory overload.
Withdrawing when touched, refusing to eat foods that have certain textures, refusal to wear certain materials, refusal to wash hair or face, avoids getting hands dirty, and using fingertips rather than the whole hand to manipulate objects. A dysfunctional tactile system can lead to misperception of touch and pain, or self-imposed isolation, irritability, distractibility, and hyperactivity. Tactile defensiveness is when the individual is extremely sensitive to light touch.
Clumsiness, falling, lack of awareness of body-position in space, odd body-posturing, difficulty manipulating small objects, difficulty feeding oneself, and resistance to new motor movement activities. Praxis is another dimension of proprioception. Praxis is essentially motor planning. This system relies on obtaining accurate information from the sensory systems and then reorganizing and interpreting this information efficiently and effectively.