Massage therapy for SPD?

I have a family member newly diagnosed with SPD. I am a certified massage therapist, and was told by his occupational therapist that massage would be beneficial to his treatment. I am eager to help in any way I can, is there any information concerning SPD and massage therapy that you can refer me to?

Any articles, websites, ANY information would be greatly appreciated!

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May 08, 2018

by: SPD

I don't have any SPECIFIC information or websites regarding the benefits of massage directly on SPD kids, however, I can certainly make a connection and tell you that it is/can be quite beneficial!

We do know (and it is proven) that deep pressure/proprioceptive input is one of the most calming, organizing, and regulating types of input, particularly for SPD children (and adults). Because of it's positive effects on the nervous system as a result of providing deep pressure stimulation to the muscles and joints, I would highly recommend it as well.

It could potentially help sensory seekers AND sensory avoiders, even the tactile defensive since deep, firm pressure is the most tolerated and necessary type of input for them.

I have not personally run across any studies, but if you were to find them, the most likely places might be BJOT (The British Journal Of Occupational Therapy) and AJOT (The American Journal of Occupational Therapy)... both of which you should be able to access in a college library.

Certainly, any information regarding the positive effects of infant massage could also get us somewhere. That information is out there (even probably on the web) too. Or, research that has been done on the benefits of deep pressure, weighted vests, etc. might help you. That information is in the journals (especially the Sensory Integration Quarterly... maybe your OT subscribes to it? and/or on the web as well). Lastly, I have tons of research on my SPD Research page... you may find something there as well.

I would be curious to know what YOU know, as a trained massage therapist regarding the effects of massage on the nervous system, specifically. Was any of this part of your training? Maybe we can put our training together to help understand why and how massage therapy can be beneficial, then make deductions related to SPD?

Meanwhile... does anyone know of any information or studies regarding massage and SPD?? Please let us know! My opinion? YES! Massage Therapy could certainly help SPD kids and adults, if they tolerate it.

Hope to find some answers too.

May 08, 2018
Anyone have any updates on this thread?
by: Licensed Massage Therapist

Hoping to put together a program for one of my clients who has SPD. Wondering if anyone has any updates through their research yet?

May 22, 2017
Case Study
by: Anonymous

I'm working on a case study surrounding massage therapy and the effects of massage therapy on the postural deviations caused by SPD. If you're interested in reading when I'm done, feel free to e-mail me at

Nov 25, 2012
Advice please!
by: Anna, LMT

I recently provided massage therapy for a client who has a 9 year old son with SPD. She asked my thoughts with a massage session for her son. I told her I would research the sunbject(this web page being very helpful) and the census is that massage could be beneficial for him. So I was hoping to get some advice. I have some questions/concerns on how to go about the session like....
-Are some materials for draping more tolerable than others?
-What kind of music should I use,examples being more singing/Tibet bowl type sounds vs. classical music vs. crickets and water sounds?
I'm thinking of just starting with a 1/2 hr session, with the expectation he might need a break. If he does want a break should I take him out of the room and for a walk to change the scenery?

I know this is all situational, every case being different. I am open to all suggestions and experiences anyone has had. I have never given a professional massage to a child, sure I've had my niece and nephew on the table, but we are close and they know me. Maybe something I could do to help ease the air of a new person touching him?
Thank you in advance, here is my email I look forward to anything helpful!

Feb 24, 2012
Massage Therapist working with SPD kids
by: Pat Pleasant

I have been working with children and adults with disabilities for the past 12 years. Many of the kids have SPD as a part of other diagnosis including CP and autism. In general, I would say that every child I have worked with has marked improvement in the following areas:

1) connectedness with the world around them
2) decreased tactile sensitivity
3) decreased sensory seeking behavior, particularly the first 24 hours after the massage
4) decreased sleep disturbances
5) increased ability to self calm
6) increased ability to focus on tasks

Most times the parents or caregivers do not believe that the child will even allow the massage. To their amazement, the kids seem to
be hungry for the touch and will even offer limbs and back to therapist. Short breaks may
be needed at first when overstimulation occurs; however, you can maintain the energetic connection and intention of the session even during the breaks from actual physical contact. Essential oils vetiver, peace and calming from Young Living Essential oils are a part of my practice along with very flexible structure. Earphones help with some. Tactile sensitivity addressed through use of a variety of textured massage products.

I keep in mind that the skin and the nervous system are derived from same embryonic layer - so in my mind's eye I keep an awareness of that connection as I am working.

Anyone can feel free to contact me at or 469-951-6614 to ask questions or share ideas.

Nov 02, 2011
Seeking LMTs / Bodyworkers Studying SPD
by: Karen Burhans

I have a daughter who has had only minor success with OT for SPD (tactile defensiveness). Through a combination of research and intuition, I am finding that certain massage techniques (particularly accupressure/shiatsu) have an amazing ability to calm her and relieve her sensory discomfort.

I am also a trained researcher and am in the beginning stages of conducting research on the efficacy of eastern bodywork on relieving SPD symptoms.

Given that there is not a wealth of existing research on the subject, I am seeking any information (anectodal evidence, case studies) and interested, like-minded researchers.

If interested, please contact me at:

Karen Burhans, Ph.D.

Jan 27, 2011
Searching For Information!!!
by: Student

Hello! I am a student currently studying to become a Massage Therapist. In one of my classes I am asked to write and Essay on anything that interests me in the field of massage therapy. I have recently come across this disorder since I have a dear friend who has an adorable little girl who has this condition. I would very much like to write my paper on the positive effects of massage on children/adults with this kind of disorder. Would any of you have an idea on where to start looking for accredited peer reviewed articles or names of journals that specialize in this field of study? Any help would be greatly appreciated!! :) thank you!!

Aug 07, 2010
SPD massage techniques
by: Cindy

I am a LMT as well as a parent of 3 children with SPD. I, too am very interested in massage therapy techniques that are beneficial to children with SPD. I have massaged my own children and they can tolerate massage better than a hug. They love to get on my table and I am sure this is a service I can provide to other families touched by SPD.

Nov 08, 2009
another interested LMT
by: Dave Gucker

Greetings! My name is Dave Gucker and I am a licensed massage therapist with a strong interest in developing a massage therapy program specifically for children with SPD.

This idea has come to me very recently and I am currently trying to get up to speed with my knowledge of the various aspects of SPD and how they are currently treated. I am highly interested in any research that is out there and would be very happy to share any findings I get in this regard!

- Dave -

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