"When I started Liddle Kidz Foundation, I began with the thought that one person can truly make a difference and I have found this to be true," says Tina Allen, an international lecturer and author who will speak on infant and pediatric massage at the AMTA National Convention.
What drew you to the massage therapy profession?
Even as a child, I was drawn to the health care field, and I always imagined working with children. Originally, I considered becoming a pediatrician, but the idea of using needles, and having to administer painful treatment didn’t excite me. So, I shifted my focus to pursue pediatric occupational therapy, before I actually discovered the career I love: massage.
What types of education have aided in your success?
Having a foundation in pediatric occupational therapy, advanced anatomy and kinesiology really prepared me to succeed in my massage therapy program. Since I knew I wanted to work with children, I also studied child development. And, volunteering as a massage therapist with isolated and vulnerable populations provided me with some of my very first opportunities to use massage in hospital and health-care based environments.
How do you describe your work environment?
My work environment has changed dramatically. I went from running a successful private and hospital-based practice in Los Angeles to bringing massage to children all over the world through my organization the Liddle Kidz Foundation. In order to try and fulfill the mission of bringing nurturing touch to vulnerable children, I travel 365 days a year and live in a tour bus with my husband and our young son. My days consist of lots of work and fun at the same time. When I’m not teaching health care professionals and families or speaking at a conference, I’m touring hospitals and developing new pediatric massage programs internationally. Each year, the Liddle Kidz Foundation takes volunteer therapist groups to work in orphanages overseas providing massage and nurturing touch to thousands of infants and children.
What advice would you offer other new massage therapists?
Find your passion and believe what you are doing is making a difference. When I started Liddle Kidz Foundation, I began with the thought that one person can truly make a difference and I have found this to be true.
You'll be leading the session “Pediatric Massage: Highlighting Autism and ADD/ADHD” at the AMTA 2012 National Convention. What can participants expect to learn?
First, we’ll dispel the myth that “children with autism do not like to be touched.” Additionally, participants will leave with knowledge about the many evidence-based benefits of pediatric massage for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum as well as new approaches and techniques they can apply within their practice. Everyone will be invited to participate in practicing hands-on techniques, so you will leave with tools you can use now.