“Touch is the first sense that is developed in humans and is essential to our mental and physical health.” – Psychology Today
Benefits of Pediatric Massage Therapy
Pediatric massage therapy is a calming support for children’s wellbeing. As a Certified Pediatric Massage Therapist, a focus of my practice is helping children with emotional difficulties such as anxiety. In addition, I specialize in pediatric massage therapy for children with physical challenges or special needs such as cerebral palsy, and have an wheelchair accessible office space. A third area of my massage therapy is for young athletes recovering from sports injury or seeking to improve circulation and performance.
I’ve been a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist since 2003, earning my certification in pediatric massage therapy in 2012.
Pediatric massage therapy helps relax the nervous system and provide new information to the body, decrease stress hormones, and relieve pain associated with physical injury or stress.
Philosophy of Pediatric Massage Therapy
I love my work, and specialize in pediatric massage therapy for young clients ages 3-17. Beginning as early as Pre-K, academic pressure and physical demands can become significant stressors for children. Add to this their physical, emotional, and cognitive growth, and many children are saturated with sensory experience.
Massage helps kids relax and heal from stress. Giving space to heal for children’s sensitive nervous systems helps them to appropriately respond to stress and adapt to change with greater ease.
I care deeply about offering children and parents a calm and healing experience that honors who they are, and honors children’s need for space and comfort. Gentle, skilled massage therapy is an avenue for children to return home to themselves: to their joy, their wonder, their softness of being.
Belonging to a close-knit and goofy family, I especially enjoy teaching massage to families. In addition to pediatric massage therapy, I teach Family Massage. Back rubs while reading “The Wind in the Willows” out loud, head rubs when it’s time for bed and a back scratch for Dad from kids are a great way to connect and improve wellbeing.
Over the years, I have changed my approach. I initially began massage practice with great motivation to help people heal from physical pain. I’d been in a car accident in my teens and experienced cervical whiplash. After neuromuscular therapy helped me heal from these injuries, I became interested in studying massage therapy.
Working with Children
A few years into practicing, I had an experience working with a child that brought to my attention the significant and surprising need that kids have for massage therapy. At that time, you didn’t hear a lot about pediatric massage. Most approaches primarily focused on relieving physical pain for adults. Then one day, I worked with a young boy who stomped into the clinic where I was working. With his permission, I gave him a simple back rub over his soccer jersey. When I saw how dramatically he transformed from irritable and unapproachable to delightful and funny, it made me think how truly sensitive children are and how much stress they’re exposed to. At times they lack the necessary resources to process it all.
Although I still address injuries and pain, the area I am most interested in—and the reason I focus on work for children—is creating an experience where time slows down and the client can have an immersive experience. As a result, listening is vital to how I work. I make time at the beginning of each session to check in with my client and better understand what she or he needs.
I’ve spent time studying positive models of meditation and mindfulness in Costa Rica, Peru, France, and Bhutan—from Gross National Happiness to humanitarian clowning. I’m interested in healthcare in the context of family and community.
Helping children return to their natural state of play and ease is my purpose in my practice. Please contact me with any questions.
Click here for more information: http://autumnwoodward.com/pediatric-massage-therapy/massage-for-kids/