Monday, October 10, 2011

Can Acupuncture Affect Autism?

The ever increasing number of children diagnosed with autism has created a degree of alarm in the US and around the world. So far, doctors have failed to find a cure for this illness. Some parents and health practitioners have begun to experiment with alternative forms of treatment including acupuncture.

Acupuncture is a holistic approach in treating and preventing certain diseases. While still considered "strange" in Western eyes, it's been around for centuries and has been practiced for decades in the US. It uses very thin needles that are inserted into targeted points in the body. The body has about 400 of these points linked through a system known as meridians or pathways. Once these acupuncture points are stimulated, they are believed to help create balance in the body.

Autism is a brain disorder that is long term. This disease is characterized by deficits in language, social communication and cognition. Children who are diagnosed with this illness may also suffer from secondary problems such as aggression, volatile emotions, irritability, negativism, stereotypes, hyperactivity, temper tantrums, short attention span and obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Preliminary studies have shown that acupuncture may provide symptomatic relief to children suffering from autism. Although difficult at first, it is believed that it is rewarding in the long run. This is because while conventional therapy and treatment requires that the child stay still, acupuncture doesn't. Some say it's a quick prick at the vital points in the body.

A group of children in the US participated in a test to see how effective acupuncture is among children. There were 22 respondents in the study. Each was given the treatment once every other day for four months. There was understandably some problem getting children to accept the needling of acupuncture. This reluctance seems to last only for the first few sessions. It appears that the children quickly learn that the procedure is painless, but even more important seemed to sense almost immediately the calming and improvement it brings to them. After the treatment 20 out of the 22 respondents showed remarkable improvement.

Aside from traditional acupuncture to help children with autism, a preliminary study in Hong Kong is trying to see if tongue acupuncture can produce better results.

Results have showed that of 30 respondents in the test, majority showed functional improvement of various degrees depending on the age and severity of their disabilities. Some improvement was noticeable within a few sessions, especially for drooling, spasticity (scissoring or tiptoeing), ataxia, and poor balance in walking. Functional improvement was noted after one to two courses of Tongue Acupuncture. Most children tolerated it well, with only occasional pain and minor bleeding in some patients.

The reason why tongue acupuncture is being experimented with is because there is believed to be a connection between the tongue and the heart through the meridians that spread to all the organs in the body. It is thought that the points on the tongue can influence the state of the other body organs thus giving relief to the one suffering from autism.

But many believe that acupuncture alone cannot help autism sufferers. It has to be combined with other things like maintaining a careful diet to help improve one's mood and communication schools. Although benefits from acupuncture appear to offer only short term results rather than a cure, it is better than nothing until a cure is found.

When will the cure be found? Only time can tell as there are many other questions that have to be answered in order for doctors to further understand neurological disabilities. A number of Autism researchers believe that an interdisciplinary approach using acupuncture is appropriate given that it has shown positive results.

Earl Netwal calls himself a Micro Business Specialist. He welcomes among his clients alternative health practitioners. He has developed web sites on the topic of autism and on acupuncture. They may be found at [] and []

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