Improvements in Autism Spectrum Disorder Following Chiropractic Care

The November 2018 issue of the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics published a case study documenting the improvement in a 3-year-old who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study defines this condition by saying, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that can cause problems with cognition (thinking), emotion (feeling), language (talking) and sociability (the ability to relate to others).”

According to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), the rate of diagnosis of this issue has significantly increased. It is now estimated that approximately 1 in 59 children are reported as having some form of ASD in 2018. According to the Community Report on Autism released by the CDC in 2016 ” …the economic burden of treatment for individuals nationwide diagnosed with ASD from birth to age 17 was estimated to be between $11.5 – $60.9 billion per year in the United States.”

ASD is treated medically in a variety of ways including behavior and communication therapies, occupational therapy, family and educational therapies, and medications. The medications are usually given to address the symptoms and to assist in socialization or learning. However, there is much controversy concerning using medications on developing brains, as well as the long-term impact of this type of medication usage.

In this case, a 3-year-old girl was brought to the chiropractor by her mother. The girl had been diagnosed with ASD. She could not communicate verbally and did not use any form of non-verbal cues such as pointing for basic needs or sign language. Her only form of communication was through crying and an occasional guttural sound. The young girl did not like being touched. At times being touched would not bother her, but other times it would send her into a temper tantrum. The girl seemed to walk on her toes half the time and seemed off-balanced, often bumping into things when walking or running.

The history revealed that the mother had a difficult birth with her daughter. Due to difficulties, both vacuum and forceps were used during the vaginal delivery. A large amount of head swelling was noticed on the infant after birth and she was cyanotic requiring oxygen to be immediately administered after birth. The girl had received all scheduled vaccinations. From previous testing, it was determined that the girl’s original ATEC total composite score was 105. A score of 104 or higher indicated that the girl was considered severely autistic.

Considering the girl’s condition, the chiropractic examination was modified to accommodate her situation. The examination included inspection, a postural analysis, leg-length analysis, and both motion and static palpation. Based on the findings, chiropractic adjustments were started.

After the girl’s fourth adjustment, it was reported that she held eye contact with her mom for five seconds. This was the first time that her daughter had made purposeful eye contact with her mother. By the seventh chiropractic visit, the girl’s mother stated that there had been a “big change” in the amount of eye contact that her daughter would do and her demeanor had gotten much calmer when they are at home.

During the 11th visit, the girl held the chiropractor’s hand calmly after her adjustment. Her subsequent ATEC score had dropped to 63, which was a significant improvement. As the girl’s care continued over time, she was able to make additional improvement surpassing several milestones. Eventually, the girl’s ATEC score had reduced to 32. A score below 50 indicates that the child will most likely be able to lead a semi-independent life without needing to be placed in a formal care facility. A score below 30 would indicate that the child possesses somewhat normal behavior patterns and communication skills and has a high chance of leading a normal and independent life.

In the conclusion, the authors of this study wrote, “This case report helps to strengthen the relationship between correcting subluxations and the improvements in the myriad of symptoms of children diagnosed with ASD.

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