The Healing Power of Touch: How Touch Can Teach

The healing power of touch for children with autism

He was only seven years old

Mike came kicking and clawing into my office, accompanied by his mom, two brothers and his companion, who had bloodied scratch marks on both arms.

Mikewas clearly in fight or flight mode, completely overcome by his inability to cope with any sensory information bombarding his brain.

Just outside my examining room, Mike threw himself on the floor, repeatedly banging his head and flailing his arms. His mom looked at me and said sadly, “Welcome to my every day.” She appeared exhausted and overwhelmed, but could not allow herself to be defeated for fear of failing her son.

It was pointless to examine Mike at that moment. His sensory processing issues were so severe, and he was in crisis. I immediately put him on my massage table and began using MasgutovaNeurosensorimotor Reflex IntegrationSM (MNRI®) in which I am a certified Core Specialist. Within moments of doing the Hands Supporting Technique, Mike quieted down and stopped banging his head. I then used my hands to place firm pressure (proprioception) on one arm using the Embracing Squeeze technique and demonstrated to his mom how to do the same on his other arm. She eagerly followed my lead. Next, we moved to Finger Pyramids, walking our fingers up each of Mike’s fingers from the fingertip to the knuckles and then sliding down each finger using strong traction. Mike relaxed. We worked together for an hour, with Mike laying comfortably on the table.

So why did his behavior change so dramatically?

During this time, Mike’s brain actually connected to his body, and he was more in control of his behavior.At the end, he sat up and hugged his mother, then turned and hugged me. Tears ran down his mom’s cheeks as she explained that hugging was Mike’s way of thanking me.

Children with autism are often so disconnected from their largest sensory system, their sense of touch; nevertheless, we often give little attention to this system when working with them. Touch is our most primal sense, and our ability to perceive touch begins early in utero. Our capacity to feel and discriminate touch directly relates to our ability to feel and understand our emotions.This is often lacking in children on the autism spectrum.

By using the Masgutova techniques, we help to integrate the somatosensory system, or systems of touch.It is only when we learn to feel our bodies and have a sense of self, of where we begin and where we end, can we start to relate ourselves to our environment.

Even at age seven.

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