Autism and Chiropractic

This section was compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
Send all comments or additions to:
Jump to:    Chiropractic Research Results        Other Management Approaches
Patient Satisfaction Cost-Effectiveness Safety of Chiropractic

Exercise + Chiropractic Chiropractic Rehab Integrated Care

Headache Adverse Events Disc Herniation

Chronic Neck Pain Low Back Pain Whiplash Section

Conditions That Respond Alternative Medicine Approaches to Disease

Chiropractic Research Results for Autism

Clinical Effects of Spinal Manipulation in the Management
of Children and Young Adults Diagnosed With Autism
Spectrum Disorder – A Systematic Review of the Literature

J Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 2016 (Dec); 15 (3): 1280–1291 ~ FULL TEXT

The results of this systematic review confirm a general lack of good quality, high level of evidence studies on the topic, as well as no existing experimental studies that have been published in the last 10 years. This review indicates that the literature on the effects of chiropractic interventions to the musculoskeletal system of autistic children and young adults appears to be favourable with respect to the severity of their symptoms. However, the results of this review have to be interpreted with great caution, as the majority of identified studies were case reports. Further feasibility and pilot research is needed to lay the foundation for good quality clinical trials of spinal manipulation in the autistic child population.

A Systematic Review of the Literature on the
Chiropractic Care of Patients with
Autism Spectrum Disorder

Explore (NY). 2011 (Nov);   7 (6):   384–390

Given the clinical heterogeneity of ASD, treatment approaches are multidisciplinary including alternative therapies, particularly when no pharmaceutical agent is effective for the core symptoms of ASD. Chiropractic is a popular alternative therapy for children. A systematic review of the literature was performed to provide context for future research endeavors in this field. At the heart of the core symptoms of ASD (ie, impaired social interactions, deficits in communication and repetitive or restricted behavioral patterns) is abnormal sensory processing. Preliminary studies indicate that the chiropractic adjustment may attenuate sensorimotor integration based on somatosensory evoked potentials studies.

Autism: A Chiropractic Perspective
Clinical Chiropractic 2006 (Mar):   9 (1):   6–10 ~ FULL TEXT

Aguilar et al. (25) carried out a series of chiropractic adjustments on 26 autistic children over a 9-month period. Twelve were found to have a left atlas laterality and 14 had a right atlas laterality. Outcomes from the study were varied but included normalization of deep tendon reflexes and dermatomal subjective sensation, increased cervical range of motion and reduction of other health problems. Many of the children were taken off Ritalin, bladder and bowel control improved, some children started to speak and eye contact and attention span also improved in some children. Hyperactivity and aggressive behaviour were reduced in other children and five children were able to attend mainstream classes at school for the first time. Behavioural data, recorded by the teachers and parents, showed significant improvements in most cases.

Is Autism a Brain Disorder or a Gut Disorder?
Today's Chiropractic 2005 (May) ~ FULL TEXT

Recently autism has been in the news on a daily basis. With a large increase in the numbers of cases—one in 166 live births, as the most recent statistic—health authorities have undertaken significant studies related to the etiologies of autism. Characterized by multiple deficits in the areas of communication, development and behavior; autistic children are found in every community in this country and abroad. Recent findings point to a significant increase in autism, which cannot be accounted for by means such as misclassification. The state of California recently reported a 273 percent increase in the number of cases between 1987 and 1998.

Clinical Efficacy of Upper Cervical Versus Full Spine
Adjustment on Children with Autism

WFC'S 7th Biennial Congress Conference Proceedings MAY 1–3, 2003, 7th Ed: 328–9

Children with autism are presented with multiple categories of clinical pictures that affect their social, sensory, speech, and physical development. In addition to chiropractic care, parents of autistic children seek all possible therapies available. In this study, the clinical outcome of chiropractic care showed higher efficacy of upper cervical adjustment when compared to full spine adjustment in autistic children.

The Status of Research into Vaccine Safety and Autism
PRESS RELEASE ~ June 15, 2002 ~ Washington, D.C. –

On June 19, 2002, at 11:00 a.m., in Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Committee on Government Reform, chaired by Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), will conduct a hearing to evaluate the status of research concerning the possible relationship between vaccines and neurological disorders, including autism.

A Case Study of a Five Year Old Male with Autism/Pervasive
Development Disorder who Improved Remarkably and
Quickly with Chiropractic Treatment

Proceedings of the World Federation of Chiropractic Congress 2001 (May); 6: 313

Extraordinary progress was noted in the patient by all involved parties. The subjective and objective monitoring system revealed a 96% overall improvement after 2 weeks of treatment. A 102% overall improvement was revealed on a 3.5 year follow-up, the mother adding that the child appeared near normal. This progress is vastly superior to typical progress following standard medical treatment.

Autism, Asthma, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Strabismus,
and Illness Susceptibility: A Case Study
in Chiropractic Management

Todays Chiropractic 1998; 27 (5): 32–47 ~ FULL TEXT

Pathologies of organic origin are commonly thought to be the exclusive realm of medical treatment and not part of the mainstay of chiropractic care. The clinical observations of a patient presenting with autism, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, strabismus, and illness susceptibility are reported. Alleviation of symptoms is seen subsequent to corrections of abnormal biomechanical function of the occipito-atlanto-axial complex. A relationship between biomechanical faults in the upper cervical spine and the manifestation of abnormal central neurophysiological processing is suggested as the genesis of this patient’s symptomatology.

The Story of John... A Little Boy With Autism   (PDF)
International Review of Chiropractic 1996 (Nov); 43–46

Behavioral improvements were observed in such diverse areas as picking up toys, use of sign language, reduction of self-abuse and appropriate use of language. It is hoped that this pilot study will generate further research into the effects of chiropractic adjustments on similar neurological disorders.

The Effect of Chiropractic Adjustments on the
Behavior of Autistic Children: A Case Review

Journal of Chiropractic 1987 (Dec); 24 (12): 21–25

Extraordinary progress was noted in the patient by all involved parties. The subjective and objective monitoring system revealed a 96% overall improvement after 2 weeks of treatment. A 102% overall improvement was revealed on a 3.5 year follow-up, the mother adding that the child appeared near normal. This progress is vastly superior to typical progress following standard medical treatment.


Other Management Approaches for Autism

Randomized Controlled Trial of Electro-acupuncture
for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Alternative Medicine Review 2010 (Jul); 15 (2): 136–46 ~ FULL TEXT

Children with ASD were randomly assigned to an electro-acupuncture (EA) group (n=30) or a sham electro-acupuncture (SEA) group (n=25) matched by age and severity of autism. The EA group received electro-acupuncture for selected acupoints while the SEA group received sham electro-acupuncture to sham acupoints. There were significant improvements in the language comprehension domain of WeeFIM (p=0.02), self-care caregiver assistant domain of PEDI (p=0.028), and CGI-I (p=0.003) in the EA group compared to the SEA group. A short, four-week (12 sessions) course of electro-acupuncture is useful to improve specific functions in children with ASD, especially for language comprehension and self-care ability.

Autism, An Extreme Challenge to Integrative Medicine
Part 1: The Knowledge Base

Alternative Medicine Review 2002 (Aug); 7 (4): 292–316 ~ FULL TEXT

Prenatal toxic exposures (teratogens) are consistent with autism spectrum symptomatology. Frequent vaccinations with live virus and toxic mercurial content (thimerosal) are a plausible etiologic factor. Autistic children frequently have abnormalities of sulfoxidation and sulfation that compromise liver detoxification, which may contribute to the high body burden of xenobiotics frequently found.

Autism, An Extreme Challenge to Integrative Medicine
Part 2: Medical Management

Alternative Medicine Review 2002 (Dec); 7 (6): 472–499 ~ FULL TEXT

Behavioral modification and structured education are beneficial but insufficient. Dietary restrictions, including removal of milk and other casein dairy products, wheat and other gluten sources, sugar, chocolate, preservatives, and food coloring are beneficial and prerequisite to benefit from other interventions. Individualized IgG or IgE testing can identify other troublesome foods but not non-immune mediated food sensitivities.


Since 7–02–2003

Updated 6-23-2022

                  © 1995–2023 ~ The Chiropractic Resource Organization ~ All Rights Reserved