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Chiropractic Care and Autism

Chiropractic Care and Autism

Presented by:  Health First Chiropractic


One of the more ambitious projects regarding chiropractic and autism was a study done with twenty-six randomly selected autistic children who received nine months of upper cervical specific care.  During this period they had four examinations during which their behavior and neurological response was monitored. Autism rating scales used were Childhood Autism Rating Scale and Modified Autism Behavior Checklist. Orthospinology upper cervical chiropractic technique which is hypothesized to remove interference from the spinal cord and brainstem was employed as the chiropractic technique.

The changes in children under chiropractic care included:

  • Children going off all medication (i.e. Ritalin, Dexadrine)

  • Improved bladder control

  • Improved digestion

  • Starting to speak or speech improved

  • Decreased ear infections

  • Chronic colds stopped or decreased

  • Improved sleep

  • Improved vision

  • Improved behavior

  • Five children enrolled for the first time in full time inclusion classroom setting1


In Canada, the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children announced they have unraveled the genetic code associated with autism, which will help detect the disorder at an earlier age. In a study published in the on-line edition of Nature Genetics, SickKids researchers say they have been able to create a genetic formula to help clinicians identify genetic mutations that have the highest and lowest likelihood of causing autism spectrum disorders. “ We think this is a game-changer,” Stephen Scherer, a senior scientist at SickKids Hospital and lead author of the study, told CTV News Channel.

Scherer also said the research has established a connection between autism and certain genes that are “turned on” in early fetal development. This discovery opens up “many options” for treatment of autism spectrum disorders including earlier diagnosis.

For some time however, several noted case studies have shown that chiropractic care can help improve the lives of some autistic children with varying results.

A Case Study

In a 1998 case study, a 5-year-old girl was diagnosed with autism, asthma, allergies, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and left-sided strabismus (abnormal deviation of the eye). She had been experiencing 25 violent temper episodes per day, with each episode lasting up to 20 minutes. The episodes consisted of screaming, combative behavior, throwing herself onto the floor, self-inflicted biting, slapping and banging her head. Her speech was limited to only a few words.

During the first week of chiropractic care she had two adjustments. After the first adjustment, the patient had her first good night's sleep since her mother could remember. Violent temper episodes had reduced from 25 per day to 15 per day with decrease in intensity and it was noticed that reasoning with the child could stop the episodes. Self-inflicted violent behavior was decreased in frequency. Her speech improved with an increase in vocabulary and sleep patterns improved.

During the second week of care the 5-year-old had one adjustment. Her temper episodes decreased from 15 to 5 per day with decrease in intensity and it was noticed that reasoning with the child could stop the episodes. Self-inflicted violent behavior was decreased in frequency. Her speech improved with an increase in vocabulary and sleep patterns improved. Her eye strabismus had cleared. She began speaking in sentences for the first time, was able to nap without waking and could go back to sleep on her own at night. Her mother reported a marked decrease in hyperactivity along with a desire to be touched and hugged.

During the third week of care she received one adjustment. Her violent temper episodes decreased to 2 per day with decreased intensity. She continued to use more speech to express her feelings. She exhibited strabismus in her left eye only when tired. There was

little hyperactivity and violent behavior had stopped; the child was sleeping through the night. Eczema had cleared and allergic skin reactions stopped. The girl was then evaluated by two therapists who declared the diagnosis of autism was incorrect. During weeks 6 and 8, she experienced a mild return of symptoms and after an adjustment the symptoms abated. During weeks 9-12 no adjustments were needed. She continued improvement over the next 8 months and did not experience more asthma attacks.2

A study as far back as 1987, from the Journal of Chiropractic, reported that 50% of all autistic subjects under chiropractic care experienced reliable behavioral improvements, as recorded by independent observers. It is reported by those working with autistic children that any change in behavior in an autistic child is considered to be significant. Behavioral improvements were observed in such diverse areas as picking up toys, use of sign language, reduction of self-abuse and appropriate use of language.3

It is estimated that autism spectrum disorders affect one in 68 children.4  

Disclaimer:  Information contained in The Wellness Express newsletter is for educational and general purposes only and is designed to assist you in making informed decisions about your health. Any information contained herein is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or other healthcare professional.  References and Sources:  1. Chiropractic care and behavior in autistic children. Aguilar AL, Grostic JD, Pfleger B. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics Vol. 5 No. 1, 2000.  2. Autism, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, strabismus and illness susceptibility: a case study in chiropractic management. Amalu WC. Today's Chiropractic.Sept/Oct 1998. Pp. 32-47.  3. The effect of chiropractic adjustments on the behavior of autistic children: a case review. Sandeful, R, Adams E. ACA Journal of Chiropractic, Dec 21:5, 1987.  4. http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/new-research-sickkids-scientists May 2014  Writer: Tedd Koren, DC  


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