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Massage and Neurodiversity

This one is not only for clients but other LMTs. The things Im about to talk about are not from any studies, they’re not measurable and they’re based solely on my clients feedback and what works for us.

As someone with ADHD I realized pretty quickly that massage therapy spaces typically were not set up for a neurodivergent mind. Depending on the type of practice it can be downright uncomfortable.

A resort or spa for example, the LMTs have no control of lighting, usually not the sound, the decor, the smells, the products or even the modalities offered. Its set up so that every client gets the same experience. The experience offered has to be easily duplicated.

In doctors offices, its very much the same. You can expect the LMT to have no control over sounds, smells, lighting or product. In both resorts and doctors offices supplies are usually rationed out as well. LMTs are only permitted so many towels, blankets and body creams for each individual client.

So, where do we go? How do we voice what is overstimulating, what smells disturb us, if we need to be draped tighter, prefer a different texture of body cream or would like more sound or less sound.

First, I recommend seeking a private practice. Privately owned Massage practices have much more control over their entire space and session. Next, call ahead and ask if the LMT is familiar with ADHD, Autism, Tourettes or whatever flavor of spicy brain you have. If not, ask if they’re willing to consult with you before scheduling a session. In that consultation, tell them what you need to relax. If they can and are willing to accommodate, awesome! If not, keep searching, we are out here.

Now, LMTs, what can we do to become more accommodating? If you currently have an intake form, awesome! If not, you need to. Ask!!! When you see ADHD, Autism, Tourettes and so on, on the intake ask in what ways you can make the space more comfortable. Just like you would for any other necessary accommodation.

Some things I’ve found helpful to stock in my neurodivergent friendly practice:

-I currently do not use a weighted blanket as I can’t find one that would hold up to that kind of cleaning. Instead, I use an extra blanket or heavy quilt. -Keep multiple options for lotions, creams and oils. Different textures and scents.

-Be willing to blow out candles and turn off diffusers.

-Get comfortable working through tics, both verbal and physical.

-Discuss sounds. If more noise or less is more comfortable. -Be willing to change the music. Even if your client needs Metallica to relax.

-Buy a white noise machine or 3.

-Discuss with your client which days and times are less crowded.

-Be willing to change your space and session from what’s “normal” and “correct”. Massaging to Metallica while in a completely bright room with no essential oils may seem like chaos to you but if it’s the first bit of relaxation your client has had in months, it’s worth it.

Be accessible to your clients. Spicy brains deserve and NEED a relaxing massage experience. Even if it’s atypical.

❤️Ashley Caudill CoOwner/LMT

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