In Touch Therapy, Dr Field conducted a further study with 22 preschool children with autism. These
children had an average age of 4.5 years old, and were assigned to either a touch therapy or a touch
control group.In the touch therapy group, the children received body rubs and smooth stroking movements. In the touch control group, a volunteer student sat with a child in her lap with her arms around the child and played games, such as selecting different colours and different shaped toys. Both groups had sessions for 15 minutes per day, for two days a week, over a four week period. The results revealed that:
Touch aversion went down for both the touch therapy and touch control group.
Off-task behaviour went down overall and significantly more for the touch therapy group.
Orienting to irrelevant sounds and noises went down overall and significantly more for the touch therapy group.
Stereotypic behaviours went down overall and significantly more for the touch therapy group.
The touch therapy group also showed, “Improvements in (1) joint attention, (2) behavior regulation, (3) social behavior, (4) initiating behavior.” Dr Field noted that the children didn’t appear aversive to either the touch therapy, or the lap sitting in the touch control group, suggesting that both of these activities were more predictable than social touch generally is.