Occupational Therapy and the Story Massage Programme

Specialist Occupational Therapist, Hanna Munro, described our Story Massage book as her ‘new favourite book’ in a recent video on her facebook page. So we asked Hanna to write a guest blog. Read on to discover the benefits of combining the Story Massage Programme with Occupational Therapy for children with autism and sensory integration difficulties.

Occupational Therapy and Sensory Differences

I work with children from age 3 plus. Many of these children have autism or ADHD. Some have no diagnosis but have sensory differences. I mainly work directly with families, sometimes I work with schools, both mainstream and special schools. I used to work for a residential special school for children with autism and some of the occupational therapists there had been on the Story Massage training. It was very popular both in school and in the children’s home.

Building Relationships and Trust

Many of the children that I work with have communication and interaction difficulties. Sharing massage stories can help them to build a relationship and trust with their teacher or parent in a non-threatening way. It is also beneficial when children are going through a tricky time. Massage stories can help get a conversation started in a supportive, non-confrontational way. This often encourages them to talk about their own feelings and experiences.

Story Massage and Bedtime Routine

Almost all of the children I work with in my occupational therapy sessions have difficulties getting to sleep. Parents report that sharing massage stories at bedtime can help with this. My own 7 year old can get quite anxious about going to school the next day and enjoying a relaxing massage story before bed helps him to feel calm and to get to sleep more easily. He likes to choose a story from the Story Massage book himself. He also likes to give me a massage in return.

My 8 year old, who is autistic, finds deep pressure calming and I use the Story Massage strokes with his favourite stories such as the Julia Donaldson ones. He can find it difficult to switch off at bedtime and this really helps him.

I have recently done some training for sleep practitioners and I have recommended the online Story Massage Course to them too!

Calming and Regulating

Many children with sensory integration difficulties, like my son, find deep tactile pressure calming and regulating. The Story Massage strokes are a great way of applying deep pressure in a fun and relaxing way. I recommend the Story Massage Programme to parents for when their child is in ‘high gear’ and they know their child needs to calm down. Children often struggle to regulate and need help from the parent and sharing massage stories can be a reassuring and positive way of interacting in difficult times.

Fun and Flexible Programme

I am always recommending the Story Massage Programme! It is easy to learn and suitable for parents, carers, teachers, therapists and children themselves to do. It is so versatile and flexible, making it ideal as part of occupational therapy sessions and for follow-up advice and suggestions too. It can be adapted to meet the needs of the child you are working with so suitable for almost anyone. Massage stories can be shared as one to one, in groups, at any time of the day, they can be 2 minute sessions or a long session. They can be taken from the book, adapted from favourite books or you can create your own massage story.

More about the Story Massage Programme

The Story Massage Programme bring the benefits of positive, respectful touch together with the creativity and engagement of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the programme. These strokes have a name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, an action and an easy to recognise symbol. It is a fully inclusive activity, no clothing is removed and no oil is used. The strokes are all explained in our Story Massage book Once upon a touch…story massage for children.

Story Massage Book

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you inspired by Hanna’s blog about combining Occupational Therapy sessions with the Story Massage Programme? Would you like to learn more? Sign up for our Story Massage Online Course and help share the benefits with the children or adults in your care – at home or at work.

We teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for teachers, SEN staff, support staff, therapists, Early Years practitioners,  those working with people with additional needs, Baby Massage Instructors, Relax Kids Coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children and adults.


Success for Student with Learning Disabilities

Celebrating success for student, Kym Shepherd, our first qualified Story Massage practitioner with learning disabilities. Kym, who has myotonic dystrophy, was first introduced to the Story Massage Programme at college. It brought such joy and purpose into her life that decided to train to share it with others. Kym passed our online course with the support and mentorship of Astrid Gilmartin, a Story Massage Instructor. Together, they plan to share massage stories with children in a local nursery. A wonderful story of courage, determination and achievement. Continue reading

Celebrating Spring with Story Massage

We’re celebrating our changing seasons with three different massage stories for spring. These seasonal massages have been shared by children in school assemblies, special events and the family home. Perhaps these stories will inspire you to create your own? Continue reading

Sensory Drama Sessions for Young Adults

The Story Massage Programme is now integral to the work of Caroline Hill, founder of Making SENse Creative Services Ltd, a company offering sensory-based activities for young adults with complex and profound disabilities in residential care homes. We talk to Caroline about her special way of encouraging creativity and fun with activities including sensory drama and sensory art sessions. Continue reading

Outdoor Learning and the Story Massage Programme

Children of all ages and abilities are now enjoying the benefits of outdoor learning. We talk to Story Massage Practitioners who are taking classes outside to share the joy of sensory stories in nature. Continue reading

In-House Training – Online Course Option

Are you looking for new ideas for In-House Training? Here are five key benefits of the flexible online course for your team members. Indeed, this option is proving so popular for schools and organisations that we are now offering a discount of one FREE place when you book 10 places on the Story Massage Programme online training.  Continue reading

Introducing Story Massage to Pupils with PMLD

What are the practical implications of introducing the Story Massage Programme to a class of children with PMLD? And how can these be overcome? Here are some helpful guidelines from Heather North, written while she was a class teacher at Lexden Springs Special School.  Indeed, Heather, who is pictured below (right) found the programme to be so beneficial that she wrote a special massage story as a fun way of presenting her work at a teachers’ meeting! Continue reading

Ten Benefits of the Story Massage Online Course

We have had so many positive reviews for our Story Massage Online Course that it is hard to know how to share all the many benefits and applications. So, we decided to ask for feedback from our most recent students to discover how the training has helped ten different people working with the programme in ten different ways … Continue reading

Animals, Jungle and Mini-beasts as Curriculum Topics

We’ve grouped together ‘Animals’, ‘Jungle’ and ‘Mini-beasts’ for this themed blog. Enjoy our free resources including a selection of different massage stories and a truly wonderful follow-along video to help support your amazing work with the Story Massage Programme. Continue reading