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Can Chiropractic Help Kids with Autism?

by Dr. Elizabeth Langer

With all of the "gimmicks" and "cures" out there, any "non-mainstream" treatment that promises to help kids with autism is subject to skepticism. And rightly so... As the mother of a child with autism, many people often recommend the latest "cure" for my daughter.

So does chiropractic care cure autism? No.

But can it help kids who are on the spectrum? Yes.

Please allow me to explain... I don't believe there is a "cure" for my daughter because I don't think that there is anything "wrong" with her. To me, she is perfect. It's not like she has some terrible, life-threatening disease that completely debilitates her. She just needs some extra support.

And chiropractic care has provided that support ever since she was little.

Chiropractic adjustments offer a safe and gentle way to manage pain. Kids, like adults, get hurt and want relief. They play, run, jump, and fall. Everyday tasks, like carrying heavy book bags, can create problems in the neck and back. Kids with autism are no different. Musculoskeletal pain can even trigger certain behaviors and "meltdowns." Just because they can't verbally tell you that they hurt doesn't mean that they aren't.

Chiropractic also helps to facilitate digestion. In my experience, kids with autism have sensitive tummies and often experience gas, cramping, constipation, or diarrhea. By gently stimulating the nervous system, restoring proper vertebral motion, and loosening tight muscles, chiropractic care can encourage normal peristalsis and relieve digestive discomfort.

One of the premises of a chiropractic adjustment is to stimulate the nervous system. Some kids with autism have problems with their nervous system.

In 2012, Kushki, Brian, Dupuis, and Anagnostou found that autism spectrum disorder is associated with autonomic dysregulation. A chiropractic adjustment directly affects the vertebral joints of the spine; therefore, it directly affects the spinal cord and central nervous system. The balance to the central nervous system that a chiropractic adjustment provides, may create calm in children with autism.

When treating children, chiropractors will often modify their treatments and use more gentle techniques. A sign of a good chiropractor is one who will never pressure your child into doing something he or she doesn't want to do. And while all kids require patience, kids with autism may require just a little bit more. There is no rush and this should be a fun and relaxing event for both you and your child.

If you have any questions about how chiropractic can help your child, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to talk with you.