When asked to name a therapy that will help the autistic community, most people will say applied behavior analysis (ABA), occupational therapy (OT) or even speech therapy, but I am here to tell you there are additional therapies out there that can help. In this article, I will describe two specific therapies, their benefits, and what typical sessions might look like:
1. Autistic Touch Therapy
The first type of therapy that may help the autistic community is called Autistic Touch Therapy. It is taught by Tina Allen who founded the organization Liddle Kidz who travels the world teaching people how to massage children of all ages and disability types. Autistic Touch Therapy is a type of massage where the therapist uses different objects that the child likes, such as a toy car, hairbrush, or even a hand puppet, to name a few, in the therapy session. The benefits include providing relaxation, stress reduction, and calming muscle spasms. It also can help a child become more accustomed to tactile stimulation and aids in body awareness. It is useful for a child who has difficulty sleeping, and needs help with sensory integration and regulating gastrointestinal tract (GI) issues.
When you perform Autistic Touch on a child, along with regular sensory integration, it will reduce inattentiveness, touch aversion, and withdrawal. A typical Autistic Touch Therapy session will last approximately 30 minutes. In the first session, the therapist gets acquainted with the child and his/her family and then, in the next session, begin the touch therapy. First, the therapist has the child pick out the object he/she wants to use, and then the therapist asks which part of the body he/she would like the object to be used on. Of course, the therapist always has a parent in the room during sessions. Then, if the child is young, the therapist tells a story on what the object is doing, and then after that story, the therapist may ask the child to tell a story about that object. The good thing about Autistic Touch Therapy is that the therapist can conduct sessions in an office or at a client’s house. After the first touch therapy session with the child, the therapist might give the parents information on the activities completed together so they can work with the child later, especially if the child isn’t sleeping well.
2. Tibetan Singing Bowls
Tibetan Singing Bowls are known to be the oldest and most natural form of healing to man. The bowls work through vibrations which has a calming effect on the nervous system and can travel deep into our body to penetrate the bones. We get a healing effect from the vibrations that a therapist could never get from his/her hands. Some of the benefits of the Tibetan Bowls are stress reduction through deep relaxation and endorphin release. They are said to liberate emotional traumas locked within the subconscious, activating self-healing mechanisms within the body, promote deeper sleep, and relief from headache, fatigue, insomnia, digestive disorders, joint or muscle aches, menstrual disorders, and emotional imbalances. A typical session for an autistic child lasts about 30 minutes, and just like the autistic touch therapy, the therapist gets to know the child and his/her family first and lets the child see the bowls and feel the vibration of them to see if he/she wants to participate. If that child wants a bowl session done, then the therapist would ask if he/she just wants to feel the vibration while the bowls are tapped or does he/she want the therapist to put the bowls on him/her. A bowl session can also be done along with Autistic Touch Therapy. Of course, parents remain in the room for this therapy as well.
As you can see, the two therapies may benefit your autistic child along with an ABA, OT and speech therapy session. A Tibetan Bowl session or an Autistic Touch Therapy session can be done before a child sees his/her regular therapist to help calm. There are many different types of autistic therapies including the Son-Rise Program, horse therapy, music therapy, and even yoga that will help an autistic child. If you want to learn more, feel free to contact me and I will try to explain in more detail. It is my mission and goal in life to help my community in any way that I can.
International Academy of Sound Healing at: iash.in/sound_therapy.html
Autistic Touch Therapy Manual
Meredith Siskron is from Shreveport, Louisiana where she is an Autistic Touch Therapist, Childcare Specialist, certified children yoga instructor, a license massage therapist, water aerobics instructor, Tibetan Singing Bowl Sound Healer, and a children fitness instructor. She grew up knowing she had a learning disability. It wasn’t until she was into her mid to late 20’s that she was finally diagnosed with a form of autism called PDD-NOS or Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
This article was featured in Issue 65 – Back-To-School Transitions