• Robin

Massage and Autism

As you might know, a significant portion of my clientele consists of children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. This part of my work is one of the joys of my life. My clients are complex, and they are funny, and they are sweet; and frequently, I get to see them be brave and do things that scare them or that they don’t want to do. They – and their families – are more like extended family to me than clients.

Sometimes, people who aren’t involved with the sessions are curious about what I do and how it might differ from “typical” massage. Of course, every massage is different. Our bodies change all the time. How I work with you one day might not be the way I work with you the next. People with special needs are no different. However, when I am working with people who have autism, there are some things that consistently look different than when I’m working with those who are more neurotypical.

Many of my clients on the spectrum have some level of sensory defensiveness -- in other words, they resist being touched on a part of their body, such as their legs or shoulders. This affects not just massage but many activities in their daily lives, such as what clothing to wear. When this happens, one of our main goals is to get used to being touched. This is slow, tricky work, and the progress is incremental. It works best if I can work with a client every week over a long period of time. Clients who become used to this work, however, carry less tension in their bodies, sleep better, and handle the slings and arrows of their day better.

If you’re interested in learning more, or if this might be a good fit for you or someone you love, please reach out!

Be well, healthy and whole,


#massage #autism #sensorydefensiveness #specialneeds

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