Here are the most frequently asked questions about therapeutic massage for children and adults with disabilities.
1. Massage for children, really?
Yes, really! As we say in our motto, therapeutic touch is a universal language, and it's one meant just as much for kids as it is for adults. Infant massage is rapidly gaining popularity as a means for parents to bond with their babies, and the benefits don't stop when children get older. Connective Touch uses child-based massage techniques inspired by those championed by pediatric massage pioneer and expert Tina Allen to bring the power of massage to the smaller people in this world.
2. What are the benefits of pediatric massage?
Many of the same benefits adults get from massage can apply to kids too. The world is a rough place, and research shows massage can lower stress levels in children, especially those with troubled medical history and current health problems for whom touch has all too often been unwelcome, intrusive, and painful. While it is a growing research field, other studies have shown positive effects on lowering tone, and improving both digestion and sleep (see bibliography below). Massage strokes can also be a simple way for parents to communicate with their children by touch; Connective Touch can provide basic education in massage strokes to interested parents.
3. Will you be putting my kid on a table?
No! When most adults think of massage, they think of the salon experience: a dark private room where they lie unclothed or in their underwear on a massage table while the therapist adjusts the sheets and draping. Pediatric massage is different. Massage can be performed with the child seated, in a wheelchair, on the floor, in their bed, wherever they feel most comfortable and whatever is easiest on their body. They also stay fully clothed. Finally, Connective Touch requires a parent or guardian to be present at all times during the massage. There will be no mystery or closed doors here; the whole point is to make it a stress-free, calming experience.
4. Can you massage any child, no matter what their health status?
99% yes. Many children with extreme medical conditions are the ones who can benefit the most from massage. However, there are some health statuses that mean no massage should happen. For example, if your child has a fever or infection, massage is not an option! Your child's medical health will be an important part of our initial discussion in order to determine if masage is appropriate for him or her, and if so, what kind will be the safest. Connective Touch requires signed permission from your child's pediatrician stating that massage is safe and appropriate for your child before performing any touch at all. We believe equally in the power of touch being universal and in being safe in our practices, so we will work with you to make sure massage is the right fit.
How does this process work?
First of all, you contact Connective Touch by either phone or email (see Contact Me) page. If you contact me by email, we will then set up a phone call during which we can exchange preliminary information such as basic information about your child, your home, and how Connective Touch will work. We will also schedule our first visit, if appropriate, during which you can fill out the client intake form and the massage consent form. By the time of your first appointment it will be up to you to have gotten the written permission for massage from your pediatrician or doctor (all forms are available in the Helpful Forms page). If that is all done, we will get started!
Massage for children looks different from massage for adults. The first session may only involve a little touch or it may involve none at all. The most crucial aspect to the first visit is bonding with the child, and that may involve waiting for him or her to decide it’s ok to be massaged. This is the main reason we ONLY offer an initial 3-session package for pediatric patients, in order to give us time to form a relationship with the child without the concern that it may be the only time we see them.
The chair massage for caregivers is offered every session, so even if your child isn’t ready, you can be!
One note: a caregiver or guardian MUST be present during every session. Please do not assume that having Connective Touch in your home “frees you up” to run errands or leave the building. We know you are busy and need a break but massage for children requires supervision from the adult for the therapist’s safety. This is non-negotiable.
What are the fees?
For adults, we offer 1-hour sessions for $75 and 30 minute sessions for $45. We will mutually decide how much massage will be appropriate for the client in terms of their medical tolerance. All sessions are rounded up to the nearest 30 minute increment.
For pediatric clients, each session is rounded up or down to be considered 1/2 hour, with a standard fee of $45. The half-hour may not consist entirely of massage but may also include therapeutic play and discussion and education with the caregiver. For these clients, there is a required first sessions bundle of 3 sessions.
Connective Touch is an in-home business, which means we come to you. Most of the travel costs are incorporated in our base rate, but if you live outside of a 10-mile radius from our company’s home base in Baltimore City, a travel fee of $1/mile is added to the price. This will be discussed with you prior to the first meeting, so that there are no surprises.
Who do you work with?
Connective Touch’s main focus is working with children with disabilities, primarily physical impairments such as cerebral palsy, TBI survivors, and genetic deletions or mutations. However, we also welcome children with autism and sensory impairments including vision and auditory deficits as well as sensory processing difficulties. Connective Touch also offers massage to adults with these conditions. Finally, we are passionate about helping all people with medical conditions who need therapeutic touch. We offer services to home-bound adults with conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s, and stroke survivors.