Qigong May Treat Tactile Impairment in Young Children with Autism
January 13, 2014 -
Evidence has emerged showing that tactile
abnormalities in young children with autism are severe, universally present, and
directly related to delay of early self-regulation milestones required for
social development. Parent touch is the most effective means of stimulating
early self-regulation, yet parents of children with autism avoid touch because
their children respond abnormally to it. This suggests that tactile
abnormalities pose a barrier to parent touch in autism, and that treatment of
tactile abnormalities may improve developmental outcomes.
Two researchers from Western Oregon
University have developed a Qigong massage treatment for tactile
abnormalities in young children with autism. They evaluated whether tactile
abnormalities would decrease following treatment, and whether the treatment
would result in improved self-regulatory outcomes.
They retrospectively analyzed their Qigong massage database for treatment effect
on tactile abnormalities, self-regulatory delay, and parenting stress.
Five-month interval data were available for 129 children with autism aged 3-6
years. Of these 129, 97 received the treatment and 32 were in the wait-list
control condition. There were no differences between the treatment and control
groups by age, gender, or severity of tactile impairment.
The treatment resulted in significant decreases of tactile
impairment, self-regulatory delay, and parenting stress. Results were
significant compared to controls. In the pretreatment data, tactile impairment
was directly related to self-regulatory delay; post-treatment, both variables
The results demonstrate that tactile impairment in young children
with autism is treatable with a Qigong massage protocol. The direct
relationship between tactile impairment and self-regulatory delay pretreatment,
and the proportional decrease of both following treatment, suggest that tactile
impairment is a cause of self-regulatory delay, and that
Qigong massage is a promising avenue to
improve developmental outcomes in autism.
This study is published in the December 2013 issue of the
International journal of therapeutic
massage & bodywork.