How can you share positive, nurturing touch for children with tactile sensitivity? We talk to Helen Wyszynski about the benefits of the Story Massage Programme for her 10 year old son, Raphael, who has high functioning autism and sensory processing difficulties.
Overcoming tactile sensitivity
Helen is a reflexologist and is always keen to learn new relaxation techniques to help Raphael cope with anxiety and low self-esteem. She trained in the Story Massage Programme four years ago and, as well as enriching her own therapy business, Helen says the combination of story with touch has proved to be a wonderful way of overcoming Raphael’s tactile sensitivity and sharing nurturing touch together.
“Raphael really struggles with touch, especially hugs,” says Helen, “It is heart breaking for a parent when you can’t hold your son and you experience him flinch if you try to hug him. With his permission, we have found sharing massage stories brings opportunities for positive, enjoyable contact and reassurance when he needs it. He loves The Circle and The Wave strokes on his head, and he adores having his feet touched.”
“The Story Massage Programme is also a really effective way of calming him,” says Helen, “Raphael asks for a massage when he feels the stress building up. He knows that it will help bring back a sense of calm and control. It was so helpful during lockdown with the massive changes in his routine.”
Boosting self-esteem and confidence
“Raphael also enjoys helping to choose different massage stories,’ says Helen, “At the moment he is feeling very low in confidence and so we have adapted the story of Robert the Bruce and the spider to encourage him to keep trying and not to give up. I remember how this story helped me when I first heard it at a school assembly many years ago!”
Here is a version of the legend as a massage story. You can also download it here: Robert the Bruce and the Spider.
More about the Story Massage Programme
The Story Massage Programme combines the benefits of positive, respectful touch 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.
Would you like to train in Story Massage?
Are you inspired by Helen’s story of overcoming Raphael’s tactile sensitivity with massage stories? 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.