Positive touch, the implications for parents and their children with autism: an exploratory study

Julie H. Barlow, Lesley A. Cullen, Delia Cushway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The aims of this study were (1) to explore the experience of touch between parents and children with autism before, during, and after a *Training and Support Programme (TSP), and (2) to develop a model of the process of touch therapy for this group of parents and children. Fourteen parents and their children agreed to take part in the study. Five of these parents withdrew. Reasons for withdrawal included personal circumstances and ill health. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews with parents before attending the TSP and Home Record Sheets completed by parents during the TSP. Results indicate that before the TSP touch was experienced as out of parents’ control. During the TSP, the experience of touch appeared to change. A key benefit gained by parents was the feeling of closeness to children. The key benefits gained by children were perceived by the parents as improved sleep patterns, children were more relaxed after receiving the massage and appeared more amenable to touch. Of interest was children's request for massage at home. At 16-week follow-up both parents and children continue to enjoy giving and receiving touch therapy, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-189
JournalComplementary Therapies in Clinical Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005

Bibliographical note

Lesley Cullen has subsequently changed her name to Lesley Powell. The full text of this item is not available from the repository.


  • children
  • autism
  • positive touch


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