Story Massage by Giuliana Wheater
Touch is life! It boosts immunity and stimulates all the neurotransmitters which we need daily. It makes such a difference!
Touch and story massage are very effective way to get our daily D.O.S.E:
Let me explain….
Dopamine, my favourite; the neurotransmitter of reward, focus, attention, and motivation.
Deficiency in this can lead to low self-esteem, low energy, an inability to focus, anxiety and mood swings.
Oxytocin: the neurotransmitter of love and nurture. It also stimulates emotional intelligence! Recent studies show that just 20 seconds after putting your hands on someone, oxytocin is released.
A deficiency in this can result in feeling lonely, stressed, insomnia, anxiety and not being able to maintain friendships.
Serotonin: the neurotransmitter of happiness, confidence, and self-esteem. A deficiency in this can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and panic attacks, being overly sensitive, social phobia, OCD, and insomnia.
Interestingly, the neurotransmitter of sleep, mood and aggression, Melatonin, is made from Serotonin. So, if we do not produce enough serotonin, we become moody, aggressive and cannot sleep.
Endorphins: the neurotransmitter of that feel good factor, feeling able to cope and function. It also helps with pain relief.
A deficiency in this can lead to anxiety, depression, mood swings, insomnia, impulsive behaviour as well as aches and pains.
Everything I do with anyone is always an invitation and always about where I meet THEM. Not the other way around. Story massage is a very impactful way to do this.
To invite and engage, to let the child choose and lead is empowering and floods them with the main happy and coping neurotransmitters. By involving them, they are also very quickly learning simple touch techniques through story massage to use anytime.
It is enormously beneficial for sensory issues too.
I was putting touch into stories for quite some years to help engage children with autism, ADHD & SEN; particularly for describing their passions, problems or favourite songs or toys.
Then I came across the incredible work of the Story Massage Programme founded by Mary Atkinson and Sandra Hooper.
This training MASSIVELY enriched my own work. It really cemented, simplified, and grew from what was doing myself – and I loved the format.
I am bursting with pride to share that my “Rainbow Kids” won the first ever Junior Practice Story Massage Award for groups and then I was awarded a Best Practice Award for the incredible results I was getting with the children.
The Story Massage programme consists of just twelve easy massage strokes. Particularly for autistic children that repetition of the strokes is comforting, grounding and does not surprise them with anything unexpected. It is a hugely useful calming and regulating tool.
But such enormous fun!!
I use it every day as part of my therapies.
It can even be used to teach parts of the curriculum!!
It is wonderful to see this work growing so much within schools. It is so needed, especially after almost 2 years of no touch.
The touch is always safe and respectful, with permission being asked first. It can be done anytime, anywhere.
Or as part of the school day for EVERYONE!
Did you also know that although our brains stop physically growing at around the age of eighteen, what we do with the grey matter inside our brains is up to US, ALL our lives! We can shrink or grow the grey matter around the amygdala or emotional brain/fear centre, the frontal lobe which houses all our higher brain functions and the hippocampus which is all about memory and learning.
Touch and story massage play a huge part in this.
When a child is in a relaxed state, they only need the same message repeated to them 4-6 times and a new neurological pathway is formed inside the brain! Not only that but through repeated touch you are then changing the memory inside the very cells of our bodies, the memory contained within our water and even the memory carried by our immune system. It becomes positive, able to cope and function, more confident and out of that crippling flight or fight scenario that so many of our neurodiverse children suffer with.
Babies with autism or other neurodiversity’s are actually born with higher levels of the enemy of the body, Cortisol, a stress hormone.
Babies born with ADHD immediately have brains that do not produce enough Dopamine – hence their inability to focus or concentrate. It is not a “conduct disorder “or wilful. It is just a differently wired brain.
Lots of our children also experience some kind of trauma as they try to navigate school and our world. As parents we can actually suffer from what is known as secondary PTSD. I know I do from the journey with my own autistic son.
Touch and story massage can help this so much. It brings the body back to “rest and relax,” calming the entire nervous system. It releases all those important and essential “coping chemicals” and “happy hormones “. It calms, bonds, builds trust, melts barriers and is such a useful tool for the whole family, including the siblings of autistic children.
I ran a story massage family workshop before Covid, and a father just broke down because he said it was the first time, he had touched his autistic son with ADHD “just because “in almost 6 years.
By putting touch into stories, it often removes the barrier of fear or distrust, especially if you make it about the child.
Through using the story massage programme, I have even had several nonverbal and selective mute children say their first word!
I have also had children who are undergoing extreme anxiety, phobias, or challenges: story massage, particularly when we write the stories together, will often give that problem a voice for the first time. And we can then work through that challenge.
Here is a link to the experience of just one parent and reflexologist: https://www.storymassage.co.uk/story-massage-for-children-with-tactile-sensitivity/
Story massage reduces and eases anxiety and stress, fear, meltdown and overwhelm.
It could even be made up to do as homework to describe a historical event or a creative writing piece for children with dyslexia as well as autism!