Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method©
sensory massage for autism

History and background

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© massage was developed by Leonid Rozman through his desire to support his own special needs son’s development and improve his quality of life. RM© is based on Tui Na, or ‘Chinese massage’ – an Ancient healing modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine that employs the use of the hands, to gently press on key points on the surface of the body, to gently stimulate the body’s own natural healing process.

Lack of social interaction and bonding in autism are linked to impaired sense of touch

The sense of touch plays a crucial role in autism. Many children and adults with autism are over or under-sensitive to sensory input and have difficulties processing sensory information (auditory, visual and tactile), from the environment.

Recent research has revealed that the severity of core autism symptoms and daily social difficulties experienced by individuals with autism are more strongly linked to their sensitivity to touch, even more so than to their both visual or auditory sensitivities. This is likely related to the fact that the sense of touch and processing of environment via touch is crucial to the development of self-regulatory behaviours in babies and young children and in their ‘mapping’ of the physical world around them.

In addition, touch is a central element in the process of bonding and attachment between parents and child, and tactile interaction between a child and its care-givers has a strong effect on the child’s cognitive and social development.

Regulating tactile processing in autism with sensory pressure massage

Impairments in the sense of touch and abnormal sensory processing during early life can have a negative influence on child-parent bonding and could interfere with the development of the child’s self-regulatory and social behaviours. Treating tactile and other sensory abnormalities could, therefore, be a promising way to improve symptoms, behaviours and overall development of a child with autism.

It has been proven through research that regular therapeutic pressure massage can have a positive effect in autism. The main effects reported by researchers and parents have been improving sensory processing, improved sociability and communication, better self-regulation and impulse control, and a reduction in difficult and challenging behaviours.

“This paper presents evidence that signs of tactile impairment suggestive of sensory neuropathy are nearly universally present in young children with autism, and directly related to severe delays of early self-regulation milestones needed for social development.”

(Silva & Schalock 2013 ‘Prevalence and Significance of Abnormal Tactile Responses in Young Children with Autism’)

“After the intervention, parents reported feeling physically and emotionally closer to their children. Children expressed a range of cues to initiate massage at home. These benefits were maintained at follow-up for parents who continued to use massage at home. In conclusion, giving massage to children with autism may help to enhance the emotional bond between parent and child.”

(Cullen-Powell et al. 2005 ‘Exploring a massage intervention for parents and their children with autism: the implications for bonding and attachment’)

 Stress, stress, stress! Abnormal ‘fight or flight’ response in autism and benefits of massage therapy

Individuals with autism exhibit exaggerated stress response. Their body’s stress response is also longer lasting – the body remains stuck in the ‘fight or flight’ danger response mode long after the perceived threat is gone. This heightened and long-lasting stress mode can cause or worsen many of the difficulties and problems that are common in autism, such as; high anxiety and fear; avoidance of novel situations/fear of change; rigidity; or challenging behaviours like impulsivity, irritability and aggression.

On-going exposure to high levels of cortisol and other hormones that are released by the body during stressful situations has negative consequences for physical and mental health.

Tui Na massage, acupressure and other forms of touch therapy have been shown in various studies to have a calming effect and to reduce the levels of anxiety and stress in humans with various types of health conditions. Massage therapies have been observed to regulate heart rate and blood pressure of study subjects, and to lower the amount of stress hormones produced by their bodies.

 Why Tui Na Centre -Rozman Method© for autism?

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© massage has been designed around Chinese medicine principles of stimulating internal energy (qi) and internal healing through gentle touch and stimulation of body meridians and acupuncture points, combined with some aspects of the more traditional massage therapies practiced in the West.

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© is affordable and simple to learn and practice. Once learned, the massage is carried out by parents at home. It does not involve third parties or travel to therapy centres. Each daily massage session takes between 15 to 45 minutes, depending on child’s individual requirements and specific circumstances.

Daily massage performed by parents provides an opportunity for the child to benefit from regular interaction and physical contact with their parent in a safe and familiar environment of their own home. If carried out at regular times, for example, bedtime, the massage can soon become the child’s bedtime routine, promoting better regulation, relaxation and sleep.

Improving the wellbeing & quality of life for the whole family

In addition to improving the child’s sensory processing, behaviours and social communication, different forms of tactile pressure massage therapy implemented by parents have also been shown to reduce their own stress levels, helping strengthen the emotional bond between parent and child. Parents who often feel distressed about being unable to get ‘close’ to their children frequently report feeling physically and emotionally closer to their children after a period of regular massage. Children themselves , even if they are not able to communicate verbally, often express a range of non-verbal cues to initiate massage at home.

Practicing Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© daily enables parents to take hands-on action and become an active part of their child’s journey to improved wellbeing and functioning.

“A key benefit gained by parents was the feeling of closeness to children. The key benefits gained by children were perceived by the parents as improved sleep patterns, children were more relaxed after receiving the massage and appeared more amenable to touch. Of interest was children’s request for massage at home. At 16-week follow-up both parents and children continue to enjoy giving and receiving touch therapy, respectively.” (Cullen at al. 2015)

Conclusion

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© is not claimed to be a cure for autism! However, based on numerous parental reports and many positive studies on related touch-therapies and massage therapies based on similar principles, the Rozman Method© massage has the potential to improve and reduce many of the disabling symptoms that can accompany autism.

Many of the parents who have attended the training and implemented regular daily massage at home have reported improvements in sleep, social skills, stress levels, outbursts, speech, repetitive behaviour, sensory and digestive problems. In addition, practicing this massage daily can further strengthen the special bond that parents have with their child, and so reduce parental stress and improve their own wellbeing.

How to train in Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method©?

Tui Na Centre – Rozman Method© training is now available online, as well as through local training courses.

In-person training courses are held approximately twice a year in London, or can be arranged on request at any location in the UK or abroad.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss a possibility of organising a training course or a demonstration workshop in your local area.

We also offer private one-to-one training. More details can be found here.

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