Massage for disabled children with behavioural and / or sensory difficulties
This page is full of massage ideas and activities for our Leaping Leopards – disabled children with behavioural and sensory difficulties.
Massage can be really helpful for your child with behavioural and sensory difficulties.
- Child/Caregiver Bonding
Massage offers a lovely opportunity for bonding. Gentle, relaxing touch is a great non-verbal way to communicate tenderness and care, and build the connection between child and caregiver. It promotes secure attachment, releases feel-good hormones and helps our child feel loved and cherished.
- Wakes up bodies
For children who are not very sensitive (hyposensitive) to touch, massage can help wake up their bodies and muscles – improving coordination and movement skills as their body awareness grows.
- Reduces Sensitivities
For children who are tactile defensive, massage (if tolerated) can help to desensitise the skin. Firm touch can be preferable to gentle, while oil can make massage more comfortable. If your child doesn’t like hands, you can try using other implements: brushes, rollers or vibration devices, for example. It is important to respect your child’s boundaries, so if they resist or are unhappy, stop the massage and try again another day.
- Calming and Regulating
Massage helps regulate the nervous system. For children who are always on the go with lots of energy, massage can be calming, encourage stillness and help with concentration. An active child might not be able to remain still for an entire body massage, but even working on a single limb can be helpful.
- Heightening Physical Awareness
Communication is really important. If your child can understand language, talk to them throughout the massage, telling them what you are doing. This is a great way to teach them about their bodies and help heighten their awareness of what they are feeling. Better body knowledge helps with movement and coordination, while the loving touch of massage can be helpful for self-esteem.
Here are some great massage ideas and activities for your to to try with child at home.
The idea of learning to massage can be daunting, but there is lots of great information out there to help us get started.
While this introductory video talks about children up to 6 months of age, the principles apply across the board – particularly if your child is not moving very much or struggles to reach gross motor milestones.
This video takes you through the whole-body massage with explanations of different techniques. As the masseuse explains, as your child gets older you may only get and arm or a leg in at a time but persevere as they will still get the benefits.
If your child is older do feel free to pause the video to make sure you have time to cover the whole body in your massage-going slowly is more beneficial than rushing to keep up. You can also use more age appropriate songs as they get older.
This is a simple video showing some calming massage techniques for children who are over-stimulated/ over-excited. This can be lovely before bed or when they need to concentrate.
This video demonstrates hand and lower arm massage techniques. This can be a lovely way to prepare your child for some fine motor or messy play activities as it will wake up the hands and forearms and may help de-sensitise their hands to different textures.
Again, if your child finds touch difficult then use distraction techniques such as watching TV. Also make sure you use firm rather than light touch.
Here is a selection of suitable Our Home videos for Leaping Leopards
Silly Socks and a bit of Boccia
Lucy Lost-it has created some fun easy to set up games. All you need are some socks!
There is so much you can do around the home with tape for your children. And the best thing is you can leave it up to play again in the future.
Stealthy Ways for Handwashing
This video contains tips on how to ‘stealth handwash’ whilst still having fun with various kitchen or household props. And also how to pimp up our liquid pumps to make it more fun for children.
This obstacle path is a great way to get your child moving and jumping around. You may find some of your neighbours joining in the fun too!
This video is suitable for mobile children. You can create the laser string quest anywhere in your home and make it as big or small or as easy as you like!
The scavenger hunt is really simple and easy to set up. It can be adapted to suit any disability and household.