The Use of Positive Touch for Children With Developmental Delays
For some children with delays and disabilities, positive touch has been used effectively to enhance caregiver-child interactions and increase the child’s comfort (Pardew & Bunse, 2005). Positive touch involves massaging a young child with specific motions designed to relax and calm the child, often making him or her more open to interaction. Massage strokes include effleurage (e.g., long, slow stroking motions), pressure touch (e.g., gentle, firm pressure motions), kneading strokes (e.g., circular strokes), and milking strokes (e.g., moving back and forth with the hand in a “C” shape). The purpose of using positive touch is not to replace therapy or other types of interventions, but to offer parents a calming way to “connect” with their child. Research has shown that infant massage and positive touch are beneficial for bonding, stress reduction, and state regulation (Harrison, 2001) and for weight gain in preterm infants; they also can improve attentiveness and sleep problems in some children with autism (Escalona, Field, Singer-Strunck, Cullen, & Hartshorn, 2001).
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