Additional Needs Massage

Additional Needs Massage, an introduction: Bring the power of positive touch to all. Learn to work confidently with and greatly enhance the lives of people with severe special needs, including Cerebral Palsey, Autism, ADHD, touch phobic and wheelchair bound. We explore permissive touch, getting patients comfortable with bolsters and pillows. We also explore working in a variety of positions including in a seated position. Learn to work on-top of clothes and how to enable others to feel safe to enable bodywork.

Hyper-mobility of joints, hyper-tonic and hypo-tonic muscles are pathologies we explore as they are frequently found in both adults and children with additional needs.

Additional Needs Massage
Additional Needs Massage

This is a fun and informative workshop, where we explore role play, verbal and non-verbal communication. We help you increase your confidence with, awareness of and sensitivity towards all patients with additional needs. Learn a simple game which can be used in a group setting (for example within a specialist school).

Get rid of the dogma.

These are post-graduate training days. However if you are a parent, carer or teacher who would like to learn some specialist skills to use along side your current work, you can attend this training course, however we would suggest you attend the Introduction to Massage in order to support your learning and introduce you to the more classic massage techniques.

TUTOR: Emma Gilmore

“My very first experience of massage in 1994 was working at a Camphill Community with adults with severe special needs, ranging from, Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Prader-Willi Syndrome, severe epilepsy, physically and sexually abused young adults, amongst others. I was blown away by the positive results created by touch, it is from this point that I have built a very successful career in massage and bodywork. It is from my experience here and my continued work that I draw my knowledge. My son has a diagnosis of dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and Aspergers which has given me great insights into the needs and sensitivities of these often misunderstood children and adults. I also have a family member with Dementia.”

I attended the Special Needs Massage course, to enable me to become confident with massage techniques that could be used on people who suffer from, for example, cerebral palsy, autism, touch phobia, and down’s syndrome, and people who are wheel chair bound.

We looked at how best to help individuals to and from the massage couch, comfortable positions for the client once on the couch, effective massage techniques, over clothes massage technique, and also using our intuition to better pick up on non verbal cues that alert us to whether the massage is being well received or not by the client, who may be non verbal.

We tried an effective craniosacral release, that is used around the temples, this can be used on anyone, to reduce stress and headaches, and whilst practising on one another, I discovered that, despite it’s gentle nature, it is very powerful.

Similarly, when we were trying out massage over clothes, it was amazing how powerful and effective it was, just keeping hands on the shoulders, or the feet; not even moving – just remaining still for a few moments. The comfort and reassurance that it brings, whilst bringing the energy down in to a slow and relaxed state… It’s a wonderful thing to experience.

I’m really pleased that I was able to be a part of this course; I feel it has been an invaluable experience and that I am better therapist for it. Touch is powerful, and shouldn’t be denied to anyone. The fact that one’s mental and physical state can mean that someone can go through life without the connections others take for granted is astounding. And something I want to change, and feel that, now, I can do so.

Sarah Penman

Additional Needs Massage

  • Dates:

    2022 Dates to be confirmed

  • Times:

    10am to 5pm

  • Fee:


  • Pre-requisite:

    This is a post-graduate training course, introducing or building on your experience with Additional Needs Massage. It is open to mothers, carers and special needs teachers as well as therapists; however if you are not a therapist we suggest you attend the Introduction to Massage to support your learning.

I look forward to practicing on my nephew who I know will gain from what I have learned and will have hours of pleasure


An excellent exploration of the skills and sensitivities required to massage patients with Specila Needs – thank you. I found the mobilisations and holds particularly effective – the ‘holds’ incredibly calming and quietening


A very therapeutic day – informative, thought provoking and nurturing too. Drawing different elements into the general theme of Special Needs Massage. A wonderful group to have been in, met lovely and interesting people


Great group of people. Thank you Emma – learned lots – special needs is an area I will look into re. my own practice


A thoroughly enjoyable and informative day, I would attend further workshops.

Tina Pike

This course, sensitive and informative in nature has given me the confidence to massage individuals with special needs. Touch is a basic human need that should be accessible to everyone. I felt educated and ready to tackle the dogma.

Sarah Penman

Thank you, I really appreciated the course, it will help me with my job, and I also discovered a school I will use again for sure.

Josiane Labelle-Moise

Responsive to the needs of the class, the new skills can also be incorporated into everyday practice.

Deirdre Richards