| IMPORTING THE PEACEFUL TOUCH
Research in Sweden has shown that touch therapies such as massage and cranial osteopathy can help children
who suffer from dyslexia, poor concentration and behavioural and emotional problems. Several practitioners
are now getting recognition for the work they are doing there.
“The letters used to jump up and down in front of my eyes. After the therapy, they simply weren’t hopping
any more.” This simple yet startling description comes from a 25 year old woman who has suffered from a
form of dyslexia for years before she finally found help from her massage therapist.
New research in Sweden has found that massage combined with co-ordination exercises can bring about great
improvements in children who suffer from dyslexia, behavioural and emotional problems and poor
Cranial osteopaths are reporting similar success stories with such children and with others who
have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. In some cases, the children’s quality of life improves
significantly, enabling them to feel better about themselves and thus tackle their problems.
Complementary therapists in these two fields are now gaining recognition for their work with children in
Ireland. Massage therapist Katie Losty has recently returned to Ireland, after six years working Sweden.
“The majority of children who have been found to have dyslexia also have mobility problems. Swedish
research has found that many of them skipped the crawling stage of their development,” explains Losty.
While in Sweden, Losty studied with Ann Chatrine Jonsson at the Axelsons Gymnastic Institute, Stockholm
(the oldest and most renowned complementary medicine centre in Sweden). After 20 years working as a
remedial teacher, Jonsson initiated a programme of massage and dyslexia training. In this programme, co-
ordination exercises are incorporated into a treatment plan for each individual child alongside massage therapy.
Now working from the Sandycove Health Clinic in Co. Dublin, Losty uses co-ordination exercises such as
jumping, eye movements, finger tapping and pen movements. Many of these exercises have already been
incorporated into other exercise programmes for children with learning difficulties. However, the unique
aspect here is the addition of the massage therapy.
“I’ve been amazed at how young children will settle down for a massage. I use aromatherapy oils in some
cases to help them stay calm and I teach them abdominal breathing to keep them grounded,” she says. Using
techniques she learned in Sweden, Losty works with acupressure points on the body, particularly those under
the eyes - which are believed to improve visual acuity. She also includes a facial massage in the treatment.
“In Sweden, this combined use of co-ordination exercises - which the children must practice daily at home -
and massage is well known in educational circles. Massage is introduced to school children in Sweden as the
peaceful touch. There, they have found that when children learn to massage each other’s backs, it has helped
to reduce violence and aggression in schools.”