The message of chiropractic is that the body has a remarkable ability to self-heal and repair. The power that made the body is the power that heals the body. The body innately knows what to do to heal a scratched finger, to mend a broken bone, to fight off infection... It's truly amazing when you think of it! Chiropractic itself doesn't directly heal you, but it mediates the process by allowing the nervous system to communicate more freely. Chiropractic adjustments to misaligned or hypomobile vertebrae puts the body into better balance physically and neurologically such that the body can do what it's supposed to do at its best. Also, chiropractors recognize that what you put in your body really does matter. Whatever you eat, do and think makes a difference in your overall health.
For the record, chiropractors do not diagnose or claim to cure autism. Instead, they seek to maximize one's inherent healing abilities by addressing physical, chemical and emotional stressors that influence overall well-being. Chiropractors play an important part of the team approach to care along with conventional therapies.
As in any individual, physical factors play a role in well-being. Chiropractors will evaluate posture, ranges or motion, tightness/tenderness in muscles and/or joints, spinal alignment and overall function. Traumas can result in pain, irritability and outbursts in those with autism, which affects quality of life. Chiropractic care is hands on, gentle and effective at addressing physical concerns. There is also some preliminary research demonstrating benefits in behavioral problems as well as attenuation of sensorimotor issues among autistic individuals following chiropractic care.
Chemical factors are anything that is eaten or breathed in. Diet plays a huge role in health and is particularly important in individuals with autism due to the gut's role. Dietary suggestions for those with autism include probiotic support and a generally clean, healthy diet. This means reduce or eliminate refined sugars, fast foods, preservatives and artificial colors/sweeteners/flavors. Home-cooked meals are best and should include whole foods, vegetables and healthy fats. Food allergy/sensitivity testing may also be beneficial. Avoiding foods that one is sensitive to may improve overall digestion and reduce inflammation. If allergy testing isn't feasible, one can try avoiding foods that are commonly problematic - for example: wheat, dairy, corn and soy. Whatever you do, don't make immediate, drastic changes as this can be both upsetting and challenging. Phase things in and out so that the change is more gradual and then try to maintain the diet for at least a month to determine if there is improvement.
Emotional factors play a role both in the autistic individual as well as the household. Children with autism are more prone to anxiety disorders, feelings of anger and difficulty in adapting to change. These may manifest as behavioral issues as well as musculoskeletal signs and symptoms. For the family, challenges in raising a child with autism commonly results in emotional stress as well as strain on family finances. Stress can present as aches, pains and headaches as a result of tense muscles and joints. Families of autistic children may also benefit from chiropractic care as a means of relieving pain as well as stress.
Physical, chemical and emotional stressors are all inter-related. By looking at the big picture of one's health, overall health and well-being can be maximized. Even if a child goes from 20 tantrums per day to five, it's worth it. Or if a child can finally sleep through the night when under chiropractic care, it's worth it. A trial of chiropractic care may make all the difference.