Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a diagnostic category to describe the developmental conditions of autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive development disorder. While each diagnosis has variation in symptoms, people with all forms of ASD share the following characteristics:
- Limited, sometimes all-consuming interests
- Repetitive behavior
- Difficulty with social interactions
- Difficulty showing empathy towards others
- Inability to read social cues, which can make non-verbal communication baffling
- Delay language acquisition skills
- Aggressive behavior
- Short attention span
- Hyperactivity and/or irritability
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children are on the autism spectrum. It is approximately 4.5 times more prevalent in boys than in girls. Treatment efforts typically focus on behavioral intervention, communication skills development, and social skills training. Some children take medication to help manage challenging behavior.
Acupuncture to Treat Autism
Autism symptoms may also respond favorably to complementary medical treatments such as acupuncture. In a 2012 study in Hong Kong, 131 children with an ASD diagnosis received body and scalp acupuncture to test the effectiveness in treating autism symptoms. The study participants showed a dramatic decrease in symptoms compared to those who received language therapy or social skills training alone.
Acupuncturists who treat autism symptoms believe that the disorder is an imbalance of energy in the body just like many others. They use hair-thin and non-invasive needles on the child’s scalp to provide stimulation to specific areas of the brain. These professionals understand that most children have trouble sitting still for 15 to 45 minutes for a session, whether they are diagnosed with ASD or not. Fortunately, it’s usually not necessary for young patients to remain motionless in one place to receive the full benefit from acupuncture.
A skilled acupuncturist considers the needs of the child as paramount when completing a session. This means understanding his or her personality, especially as it relates to specific fears. Although acupuncture can’t cure autism, many families have reported an increased quality of life for their children.
Other Promising Drug-Free Treatments for Autism
Parents are increasingly turning to alternative therapies to help manage autism symptoms in their children. Architects and developers recognize this, which is why they are busy creating natural therapies for those on the spectrum. One such item is a prototype for a sensory Playscape, which essentially involves specific architectures and textures for those with autism symptoms. It contains fabric stretched over rods and a highly interactive environment inside.
When the child applies pressure to the fabric, it triggers two-dimensional imagery and sound. The idea is to demonstrate a connection between visual feedback, auditory feedback, and sound. It also helps children understand how much pressure they need to apply to get the desired impact.
A new form of smart, wireless earbuds known as IQBuds is another promising product for those suffering from concentration disorders. Children wear them to block out background noise while at school or another busy environment. This helps to improve concentration for people who struggle with sustained attention and processing difficulties. It, too, has shown exceptional potential at the earliest stages.
Managing symptoms is critical to give people with autism a quality of life that others take for granted. Acupuncture and the patent-pending products described above can be even more effective than other forms of non-drug therapy such as speech and social skills training.