Just-published research shows that massage has positive effects on social and language skills for young people with autism.

The randomized, controlled trial examined the effects of massage in 46 children with autism.

The intervention, Qigong Sensory Training, is a massage intervention based in Chinese medicine, according to an abstract published on www.pubmed.gov. Trainers worked with the children directly 20 times over five months, and parents gave the massage daily to their children.

“Improvement was evaluated in two settings—preschool and home—by teachers (blind to group) and parents,” the abstract noted. “Teacher evaluations showed that treated children had significant classroom improvement of social and language skills and reduction in autistic behavior compared with wait-list control participants. These findings were confirmed by parent data, indicating that the gains had generalized across contexts.”

In April, MASSAGE Magazine reported on a survey which showed U.S. physicians want more education in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to help their autistic patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 150 children in the U.S. is affected by autism, and one half to three quarters of these children are being treated with CAM therapies.