Complimentary therapy

This is a form of therapy which is based upon an alternative form of treatment rather than conventional methods such as medication, behavioural interventions and speech and language therapy.

This can include:

  • Vitamin/food supplements
  • Special diets
  • Autism assistance dogs (as part of dogs for the disabled)
  • Massage/Indian head massage
  • Reikki
  • Family learning

Vitamins/food supplements

Many people switch to a special diet or take a food supplement in the belief that it will improve the symptoms of their autism. Autistic adults and parents of children with autism will make a few changes to their diets, such as removing wheat and dairy products.

They believe that these two products are responsible for many of the symptoms and by removing these they will lessen these symptoms or even remove them altogether.

Another option is supplementing the diet with vitamins, for example Vitamin C and B6 will improve the symptoms of autism.

But more research is needed to substantiate or reject these claims.

Autism assistance dogs

Another increasingly popular therapy is ’dogs for the disabled’. These dogs are specially trained to care for a person with a particular disability such as blindness or deafness. They enable them to live an independent life and in many cases is a lifesaver for that person.

Plus there is now an autism assistance dog service in which someone with autism is provided with a specially trained dog which helps them to communicate. The dog enables the person to relax in unfamiliar places and ensures that they feel safe and protected.

Find out more about this scheme.

Massage/Indian head massage

These are popular complimentary therapies with many people who enjoy the feelings of calmness and relaxation as a result. But massage can also be used on autistic people.

Therapeutic massage may be beneficial for autistic children as it will enable them to become accustomed to being touched and physical contact in general. Many autistic children dislike any form of physical contact and can often only express any type of emotion in a negative way, e.g. anger or frustration. Massage teaches them to relax and enjoy someone touching or stroking their skin in a soothing manner.

The aim is to not only accustom them to being cuddled, hugged or touched by their parents but to relax and sleep. It may also calm the child to the extent that they are better able to focus on a task.


This is another complimentary therapy which involves placing the hands onto an area of the body in order to relieve stress and promote relaxation. This can benefit an autistic person who will learn how to reduce their stress and anxiety especially when in an unfamiliar environment.

Reikki takes place in a calm environment which is ideal for the autistic child who often dislikes any type of noise or sounds which they interpret as unpleasantly strident. The child relaxes in this soothing and peaceful environment and allows themselves to undergo the laying on of hands as part of the therapy.

Family learning

This is where the entire family are encouraged to participate in the therapy. So, if you are the parent of an autistic child then you will become part of the session, actively engaging with your child and utilising any of the techniques, e.g. massage.

This is important as one of the problems parents of autistic children find is that they are unable to interact with their child or to form an emotional bond with them. Their child does not how to receive and give love to their parents which is upsetting for everyone.

The parents can feel rejected or even angry with their child but family learning will show them ways of interacting with their child which will lead to an attachment.

These are just some of the many remedies available for people with autism.

It is a good idea to find out as much as you can about these various therapies before proceeding. Speak to your GP and/or autism team and ask for advice as there may be difficulties if you replace an aspect of your current treatment with a complimentary therapy.

For example: if you are the parent of a child with autism and you decide to introduce them to a special diet then this may cause problems. It could worsen their symptoms or cause unwanted side effects so obtain advice before you do.

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