You can tell that it is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum, the other two being Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, which is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met. Studies have shown that there is an increase in the number of children that have been diagnosed with autism.
Autism causes children to experience the world differently from the way most other children do. It’s hard for children with autism to talk with other people and express themselves using words. Children who have autism usually keep to themselves and many can’t communicate without special help. They also may react to what’s going on around them in unusual ways. Normal sounds may really bother someone with autism — so much so that the person covers his or her ears. Being touched, even in a gentle way, may feel uncomfortable.
Children with autism often can’t make connections that other children make easily. For example, when someone smiles, you know the smiling person is happy or being friendly. But a child with autism may have trouble connecting that smile with the person’s happy feelings. A child who has autism also has trouble linking words to their meanings. Imagine trying to understand what your mom is saying if you didn’t know what her words really mean. It is doubly frustrating then if a child can’t come up with the right words to express his or her own thoughts.
Autism causes children to act in unusual ways. They might flap their hands, say certain words over and over, have temper tantrums, or play only with one particular toy. Most children with autism don’t like changes in routines. They like to stay on a schedule that is always the same. They also may insist that their toys or other objects be arranged a certain way and get upset if these items are moved or disturbed.
If someone has autism, his or her brain has trouble with an important job: making sense of the world. Every day, your brain interprets the sights, sounds, smells, and other sensations that you experience. If your brain couldn’t help you understand these things, you would have trouble functioning, talking, going to school, and doing other everyday stuff. Children can be mildly affected by autism, so that they only have a little trouble in life, or they can be very affected, so that they need a lot of help.
A child with autism may not be able to manage the smells of the lion house at the zoo. But they may well be able to quietly watch the reptiles in the scent-free reptile house, with no need for shouting, bolting, or banging on the glass. A child with autism may not be able to manage a 45 minute grocery trip. But they may well be able to handle a quick trip, helping select a few items and put them in the cart and on the counter. A child with autism may not be able to sit through an entire puppet show, story hour or concert. But they may well be able to sit through a portion of the presentation – and then indicate that they are ready to leave without disrupting the entire venue.
While there is no established cure for autism, there are many treatments. Some help manage symptoms, other teach social and behavioral skills, and still others are intended to cure autism altogether. Before you plunge into selecting an autism treatment (or several treatments!), it’s important to know what your options are, and how to evaluate whether a treatment is working.
There are many theories regarding the causes and “core deficits” of autism. As a result, there are many different types of therapies and treatments developed specifically to alleviate symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. On the upside, that means you have a range of options to try. On the downside, it means you never know whether you’ve tried the most effective option for you or your child.
Because there are so many choices — and no “one best choice” — most families try at least a few types of treatment. And most find that some combination of treatments make a real difference.
Traditional Therapies To Treat Autism
Plenty of therapies are designed specifically to treat autism. But older, more traditional therapies are also helpful for treating symptoms of autism. Sometimes, these therapies are “tweaked” to support specific symptoms — but basically, these are tried-and-true techniques that have been researched over many years. Some parents may prefer recreational and artistic therapies for autism. These treatments like Music Therapy, Art Therapy, Drama Therapy aren’t offered by schools or regional autism centers, but they’re often creative, fun, engaging and effective.
Acupuncture Treatments for Autism
New and alternative treatments like Auditory Integration Training, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, the Rapid Prompting Method and DAN Protocol etc. have also come out to hold some promise but some of them are expensive too.
Until now, doctors have not yet found a cure to this illness which is why some parents want to experiment with alternative forms of treatment and one example is acupuncture. Acupuncture is a holistic approach in treating and preventing certain diseases. Its main tools are very thin needles that are inserted to targeted points in the body. The body has about 400 of them linked through a system known as meridians or pathways. Once these are stimulated, these are supposed to create balance in the body.
Autism on the other hand 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, irritability, stereotypes, hyperactivity, negativism, volatile emotions, 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 are 22 respondents and each of them was given the treatment once every other day for four months. After the treatment 20 out of the 22 respondents showed remarkable improvement. In fact 2 of them has cerebral blood flow. The only thing that did not change prior to treatment and after was the blood flow between the left and right cerebrum as it showed no differences.
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 TAC sessions, especially for drooling, spasticity (scissoring or tiptoeing), ataxia, and poor balance in walking. Functional improvement was noted after one to two courses of TAC. Most children tolerated TAC well, with only occasional pain and minor bleeding in some patients.
The reason why tongue acupuncture is being experimented with is because there is a connection between the tongue and the heart through the meridians that spread to all the organs in the body. It is believed that the points on the tongue can influence the state of the other body organs thus giving relief to the one suffering from autism.
Since autistic patients can have a difficult time following directions and being cooperative, body acupuncture is not always an ideal method. However, during scalp acupuncture procedure, children do not need to lie down and stay motionless. While the needles are in place on their head, they can play, learn to read, speech and walk. So scalp acupuncture is a safe and easy way to needle autistic children.
Scalp acupuncture is also known as head acupuncture. All meridians will reach the head, so the head is also called the Sea of Meridians. In TCM, nearly 365 acupuncture points on the body surface (approximate 18% on the head) are interrelated to various zang and fu (organs or viscera) functions. Except the connections with meridians based on the foundation of Traditional Chinese acupuncture, scalp acupuncture also has developed on modern anatomy, neurophysiology and bio-holography theory. Acupuncture is applied to specific areas of the head, using a precise needling technique, to deal with various diseases. Scalp acupuncture has been proven to be the most effective technique for treating central nerve damage. In recent studies, the effect of acupuncture was hypothesized and proven in animal and human studies to be due to direct neural stimulation, changes in neurotransmitters such as endorphin, immunological markers and endocrinological signals, including autism.
If you feel that your child can be cured with acupuncture, you need to ensure that your child’s team of doctors–acupuncturist, physician, psychologist or behavioral specialist, physical or speech therapist should work together to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Acupuncture may be an effective way to treat some issues related to your child’s autism, but it is unlikely that it will cure the disorder completely. Having a cohesive team dedicated to helping your child is the best kind of medicine since many believe that acupuncture alone cannot help autism sufferers. It has to be combined with other things like maintaining a certain diet to help improve one’s mood and communication schools. Although it is only short term, 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. Doctors who are conducting research believe that an interdisciplinary approach is needed given that acupuncture has shown positive results in helping children with autism.
Be Happy – Acupuncture Can Help You to cure Autism.