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As you can see in our section titled "Bodywork", there is a lot of information regarding its therapeutic benefits - positive effects on the immune system, pain management, improvement in skin condition, and the physical and mental health benefits of relaxation. However, information about the benefits of bodywork for individuals who have developmental, physical, cognitive or emotional challenges is relatively nonexistent.

This is a diverse population of people whose need for positive human touch is often neglected.   Unfortunately, most practitioners are unaware of these needs.  Individuals “special needs” result from the challenges they face daily from their developmental disabilities of mental retardation, Down Syndrome and Autism; physical diagnoses of Cerebral Palsy and Fibromyalgia, seizure disorders and arthritis; psychiatric challenges; pregnancy, cancer, and the list goes on.

Some of these individuals are challenged with more than one condition and are considered “dually” or “multiply”diagnosed.


Because some of the behaviors are labeled as “maladaptive” (drooling, spitting, aggressiveness, compulsive biting and banging, and other self-inflicted injuries), these individuals are often deprived of positive, caring human touch. The touch they receive is often limited to that required to carry out basic personal care and activities of daily living (ADL). Negative experiences with touch occur if an individual requires restraints for control or frequent transfer from wheelchairs or beds.  Some of these individuals have experienced physical and emotional abuse and sadly, have learned to fear touch.

Bodywork is beneficial in helping to control aggressive and obstinate behaviors by providing relaxation.  Over time, the bodywork can yield growing trust and the ability to respond to touch as a positive experience.


The benefits of bodywork are not just limited to the behavioral issues of individuals who have special needs, but also address some physical concerns as well.  Bodywork is an excellent approach for temporary relief of muscle spasms in those with Cerebral Palsy and other neurological disorders. Bodywork improves their range of motion and enables them to be more independent in basic activities such as dressing or facilitating their ability to reach and use communication devices.  Bodywork also decreases pain and stiffness experienced by individuals who are challenged with neurological problems and arthritis.


This is a condition of the tactile system that is manifested by an individual withdrawing when being touched, displaying aggressive behaviors, or even refusing to eat certain foods because of its texture.  It is commonly associated with Autism. The approach used to address tactile defensiveness varies according to the individual.  With patience, communication, and sensitivity to individual differences, bodywork can provide individuals who experience tactile defensiveness with a positive experience that develops into increasing tolerance for touch.


Cancer in itself can be a devastating diagnosis. We know that early intervention is key. But how can bodywork benefit someone during this difficult time or even once an individual has gone into remission:

  • Aids in relaxation
  • Helps decrease nausea and vomiting
  • Stimulates the scalp
  • Promotes a positive self-image
  • Helps alleviate depression
  • Encourages slow, deep breathing
  • Can assist with visual, auditory and olfactory disturbances
  • Assists with lymphadema management (decreasing swelling)

Many things are taken into consideration when devising a treatment plan - from the type of cancer, looking at interventions/protocols/medical devices being used, to surgical treatments/sites, as well as nervous system effects and treatment length.


Bodywork during pregnancy and postpartum has numerous benefits for both the mother and the baby including, but not limited to:

  • Promoting endocrine changes that promote rest and relaxation
  • Providing nurturing touch which enhances bonding between the mother and child
  • Promoting circulatory and lymphatic system efficiency which supports both the mother's system and the baby's gestation
  • Reducing the musculoskeletal strain associated with the structural and physiological changes in pregnancy, as well as care of an infant

Many factors are taken into consideration to ensure the health of the mother and baby, including a thorough intake interview, hormones, fetal development, positioning, precautions and contraindications for each trimester. For postpartum, some additional considerations are whether you had a vaginal or cesarean birth.

Should you have ANY questions relating to a condition of the body and whether therapy would be beneficial, don't hesitate to ask.