Objectives: The objective of this study was to access whether there were any therapeutic effects of Thai Traditional Massage (TTM) on major behavioral and emotional disturbances in Thai autistic children.
Design: This was a randomized controlled trial study.
Settings/location: The study was conducted at the Rehabilitation Centre of the Thai Red Cross Society.
Subjects: A total of 60 autistic children between the ages of 3 and 10 completed this study.
Interventions: Standard sensory integration therapy (SI) was compared to the SI with TTM treatments.
Outcome measures: Parents and teachers assessed major behavior disturbances using the Conners' Rating Scales at 0 and 8 weeks. Sleep Diary (SD), recorded by the parents, assessed the patient's sleeping patterns every week.
Results: Sixty (60) autistic children, mean age 4.67 +/- 1.82, were recruited. No statistical differences were seen in the demographic and baseline data among both groups. From both the Conners' Teacher Questionnaire and SD, statistical improvement was detected for conduct problem, hyperactivity, inattention-passivity, hyperactivity index, and sleeping behavior. However, results from the Conners' Parent Questionnaire revealed an improvement only for anxiety (p = 0.04) in the massage group, whereas when both groups were compared, a significant improvement in conduct problem (p = 0.03) and anxiety (p = 0.01) was found. Results indicated that TTM may have a positive effect in improving stereotypical behaviors in autistic children.
Conclusions: Over a period of 8 weeks, our findings suggested that TTM could be used as a complementary therapy for autistic children in Thailand.