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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2015, Article ID 904585, 16 pages
Research Article

Early Intervention with a Parent-Delivered Massage Protocol Directed at Tactile Abnormalities Decreases Severity of Autism and Improves Child-to-Parent Interactions: A Replication Study

1Teaching Research Institute, Western Oregon University, 345 N. Monmouth Avenue, Monmouth, OR 97361, USA
2Providence Neurodevelopmental Center for Children, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Portland, OR, USA
3Sikhara Group, 3434 NW Savier Street, Portland, OR 97210, USA

Received 3 December 2014; Revised 14 February 2015; Accepted 1 March 2015

Academic Editor: Herbert Roeyers

Copyright © 2015 Louisa M. T. Silva et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tactile abnormalities are severe and universal in preschool children with autism. They respond well to treatment with a daily massage protocol directed at tactile abnormalities (QST massage for autism). Treatment is based on a model for autism proposing that tactile impairment poses a barrier to development. Two previous randomized controlled trials evaluating five months of massage treatment reported improvement of behavior, social/communication skills, and tactile and other sensory symptoms. This is the first report from a two-year replication study evaluating the protocol in 103 preschool children with autism. Parents gave daily treatment; trained staff gave weekly treatment and parent support. Five-month outcomes replicated earlier studies and showed normalization of receptive language (18%, ), autistic behavior (32%, ), total sensory abnormalities (38%, ), tactile abnormalities (49%, ), and decreased autism severity (medium to large effect size, ). In addition, parents reported improved child-to-parent interactions, bonding, and decreased parenting stress (44%, ). Early childhood special education programs are tasked with addressing sensory abnormalities and engaging parents in effective home programs. Until now, they have lacked research-based methods to do so. This program fulfills the need. It is recommended to parents and ECSE programs (ages 3–5) at autism diagnosis.