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> Home > Articles by Tina Allen > Autism and Dopamine

Autism and Dopamine | What’s the connection?

by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated July 2013

Children with autism can display a wide range of symptoms

Children diagnosed on the autism spectrum have varied symptoms that contribute to ultimately reaching a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Symptoms of autism typically appear before a child is 3 years old and last throughout life. Children with autism can display a wide range of symptoms, which can vary in severity from mild to disabling.

 



 

General symptoms that may be present to some degree in a child with autism include:

  • Difficulty with verbal communication, including problems using and understanding language.
     
  • Inability to participate in a conversation, even when the child has the ability to speak.
     
  • Difficulty with non-verbal communication, such as gestures, facial expressions and eye-to-eye contact.
     
  • Difficulty with social interaction, including relating to people and to his or her surroundings.
     
  • Inability to make friends and preferring to play alone.
     
  • Unusual ways of playing with toys and other objects, such as only lining them up a certain way.
     
  • Lack of imagination.
     
  • Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine or familiar surroundings, or an unreasonable insistence on following routines in detail.
     
  • Repetitive body movements, or patterns of behavior, such as hand flapping, spinning, and head banging.
     
  • Preoccupation with unusual objects or parts of objects.
     

 

Much more Autism Research needs to be done

Researchers also estimate that between 56% and 83% of children with autism spectrum disorders experience sleep disturbances, including refusal to go to bed, getting out of bed, tantrums at bedtime, early waking, requiring a parent to sleep with the child and hyperactivity at night (Schreck and Mulick, 2004) (Taira et al., 2008).   This can create not only difficulty at the very time of the day when relaxation is needed most, but not having adequate sleep can have detrimental effects on parent and child.

Dopamine Plays a Role in regards to Autism

So, what does Autism have to do with Dopamine?  Dopamine is a chemical that is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. Dopamine is important for normal functions of neurons, and plays a role in turning neurons on. It is also a vital component in many nervous system functions, including mood, sleep, movement, and motivation.

According to research performed by the Touch Research Institute published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy (Field et al., 2005).  Not only does this increase in dopamine contribute to sleeping patterns for children on the autism spectrum, but massage therapy can also affect their anxiety levels due to the decrease of the stress hormone cortisol.  Massage Therapy may provide relaxation, decreased anxiety and increased dopamine which can assist in appropriate and restful sleep.

 

 

Pediatric Massage for Autism (ASD)

Pediatric Massage for autism (ASD) requires specific skills to adapt massage and nurturing touch techniques suited for the child’s specific condition(s), treatment and treatment plan.

Healthcare professionals including massage therapists who wish to provide massage for pediatric patients with autism should consider specific specialized training in this area. The comprehensive Touch Therapy for Liddle Kidz with Autism (ASD) for massage therapists and healthcare professionals provides educational and professional training to those who wish to enhance their skills. Through this advanced pediatric massage training, participants will learn massage for pediatric clients with autism, and other diagnoses found on the autism spectrum, massage techniques, nurturing touch techniques, and information about the most common types of childhood diagnoses related to autism spectrum disorders including autism, aspergers syndrome,  retts disorder, pervasive developmental disorder and childhood disintegrative disorder.

Massage therapy may not ultimately cure autism, but this nurturing touch may provide some of the most beneficial and therapeutic touch in the child’s treatment plan.

 

Specially trained Certified Pediatric Massage Therapists

Massage may be a supportive therapy that can be readily applied, most effectively by specially trained massage therapists or by parents who have learned massage techniques from a skilled, educated massage therapist.   Pediatric massage and nurturing touch are the most appropriate massage techniques to use in this population. When using massage therapy for children with cancer, your work does not need to be aggressive to achieve its maximum potential.

 

Now Let's Talk about how the Liddle Kidz Foundation can  make a postive impact on your life!

 

Specially trained Certified Pediatric Massage Therapists

lkf-cpmt-logo-144pxMassage may be a supportive therapy that can be readily applied, most effectively by specially trained massage therapists or by parents who have learned massage techniques from a skilled, educated massage therapist.   Pediatric massage and nurturing touch are the most appropriate massage techniques to use in this population. When using massage therapy for children with cancer, your work does not need to be aggressive to achieve its maximum potential.

For more information visit Comprehensive Pediatric Massage Training Course (CPMT)
 

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For more information visit: Advanced Specialized Pediatric  Massage Training for Autism

 



 

(If you would like to republish the above article, please e-mail your request and where it will reside to info@liddlekidz.com, and we will send you a short bio you can use with it for your site.)

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