Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine where needles are inserted into a person’s skin to relieve many illnesses, including autism. Autism is a disorder that affects communication, social skills and behavior, there are different types of autism, but it is known now, that autism is influenced by genetics and environmental factors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in America, 1 out of 68 children are autistic. Autism is 4.5 times more common in boys than in girls, and this disorder occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Symptoms appear before age three years, though children may be diagnosed after the age of three years in many cases. It is believed that some of these signs can be lessening by visiting an acupuncture doctor.
Signs of autism
Although most all parents notice symptoms within the first two years of their child’s life, the signs of autism may appear at earlier stages of life. Some children with autism disorders show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms may not become evident until 24 months or later.
Possible signs of autism in babies and toddlers:
By six months no social smiles or other warm, joyful expressions directed at people, limited or no eye contact. By nine months, nonverbal communication (no sharing of vocal sounds, smiles) By 12 months, no babbling, no use of gestures to convey meaning, such as pointing and waving, also there may be no response to name when the person is called. By 16 months, there are usually no words.
Possible signs of autism at any age:
A potential autistic person avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone, struggles with understanding other people’s feelings. Also, a person suffering from remains nonverbal or has delayed language development, repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia), gets upset by minor changes in routine or surroundings. Also, an autistic person has highly restricted interests, performs repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning, has an unusual and intense reaction to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights, and colors
Western medicine suggests different treatments to help people with autism improve their functionality, some of these include
Behavioral training to reinforce social skills, behavior, and communication, specialized therapies, such as physical therapy and occupational therapy, medicine to reduce anxiety depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Alternative medicine as acupuncture has also been suggested as part of autism treatment. Chinese medicine sees this type neurodevelopment disorder as an imbalance of body functions as well as an imbalance of energy, qi.
Studies show that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help improve function in children with an ASD. These functions include language comprehension, self-care abilities, motor skills and coordination, social initiation, and attention span. Acupuncture and electro-acupuncture are especially helpful with secondary outcomes, such as communication and linguistic ability, cognitive function, and global functioning. There is less evidence of acupuncture making a significant change in the primary result of core autistic symptoms
A study based on acupuncture to treat ASD (autism spectrum disorder), has demonstrated that 12 sessions acupuncture significantly improved functions in children with autism. According to this study, over 70% of the children with ASD were compliant and adapted quickly to the acupuncture therapy while 8% were not compliant. People from ages 3-18 participated in the study.
Different acupuncture points for the treatment of autism were chosen for the study. The needles were connected to a portable electro-acupuncture device, and the therapy was administered for 30 minutes. The treatment aimed to make the heart ‘unobstructed, regulate the liver, correct derangements or imbalances in the energy flow, enforce the emotion, stimulate the spleen and kidney, and facilitate the source of vital function.
At the end of the study, electro-acupuncture made significant improvements in the social initiation, receptive language, motor skills, coordination, and attention span. Improvements in motor coordination include better writing ability, as participants were better able to write words within set lines and squares. Also, one participant had significant improvements in swimming ability and enhancements in paper cutting. Interesting motor improvements include better walking posture, the speed of walking, and ability to go up and down the stairs.
The principles of Chinese Medicine also includes proper diet to be the first medicine in all kind of ailments. This consists of a whole foods diet and herbal medicine. According to some research, herbal therapy and massage are also helpful for treating children with ASD.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help children and adults along the autism spectrum with cognitive functioning, linguistic abilities, self-care, attention span, coordination, motor skills, and social initiation, by treating the specific signs of the patient and stimulating the nervous system and the brain. Another critical aspect of managing autism includes healing the gut with an appropriate and healthful diet.