Espalda for Special Needs


Espalda Massage Therapy – Working with, and for, those with Special Needs

In addition to holding a Level 3 qualification in Indian Head Massage, Sarah is trained in a specially adapted form of Indian head Massage, a technique developed by Giuliana Fenwick, that is suitable for use with those with a range of special needs. Fenwick’s style of Indian Head Massage is much softer than the traditional massage and includes more holding and nurturing strokes, which are more appropriate for young people with special needs.

Children and young people are placed very much at the centre of their treatments and determine which sections of the massage they would like from one session to the next. Their permissions are sought and they are made to feel comfortable and relaxed which ensures that they get the most from their treatments.

The Benefits of Treatment

This extract is taken from an article written by Giuliana Fenwick in Issue 116 of the International Therapist magazine.

“The short term benefits of treatment are instant. As the young person feels empowered and in control of the sesison, they learn to trust you and relax, and become more receptive and less defensive. Before long, they start to open up to other help around them and to other people, including their peers. As the young person becomes increasingly more calm and confident – associating touch with comfort, reassurance, relaxation and nurturing – the long-term benefits really start to show and affect all areas of their life; be it at home, in school or in social situations.

By working on the head, short-term memory, focus, concentration, empathy, language, speech, comprehension, sensory association, controlling impulses, social cognition, reading and processing faces and memories are all stimulated. By increasing seratonin levels, the client is flooded with feelings of happiness and well-being. Increased melatonin levels promote deeper, more restful sleep patterns and with rest and sleep, all of us function and cope better. Dopamine, the ‘pleasure hormone’ is also stimulated, helping with memory, sleep, behaviour, attention, focus, learning and confidence. Studies show that those with ADHD and EFD have significantly reduced levels of dopamine, so massage can be hugely beneficial to these people.”

Who can benefit?

Case studies completed since the technique was developed have shown that this adapted form of treatment can help those living with a number of special needs including:

  • mild to severe autism
  • dyslexia
  • dyspraxia
  • learning difficulties
  • behavioural issues
  • ADHD
  • Tourette’s
  • OCD
  • psychosis
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mental health issues
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • eating disorders
  • physical disabilities

Sarah has a DBS enhanced disclosure as a Professional Therapist and Member of the Federation of Holistic Therapists working with those under 18 years of age and with vulnerable adults.

If you are an education establishment or organisation that works with those with special needs or if you are a parent and would like to know more about Sarah’s work in this area please get in touch.

Call Sarah on 07885533130 or email

Espalda Masage FHT Link