Patients frequently ask, “Can acupuncture help with autism?”  This blog post is so that people know that the answer to that is “YES, absolutely!”, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help a lot with Autism.  Unless you have a child or other close family member with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you are probably unaware that the prevalence of ASD has skyrocketed in the last 40 years.  It’s gone from a rare incidence of 1 in 10,000, to an all too common 1 in 68.  Symptoms of ASD can vary, but often include difficulty in social interactions and verbal communication.  Other symptoms can be poor nonverbal communication, including failure to make eye contact, inability to connect with others and lack of empathy, as well as repetitive or obsessive behaviors. Autistic children can also exhibit learning or speech delays (or loss of speech), and inability to befriend peers.  Many people might not know that most people with ASD have normal or above average IQ scores.

Autism more commonly affects males than females, and typically first appears in toddlers, between 12 and 18 months of age.  Awareness and education about autism is imperative, as it translates to earlier diagnosis in these children which allows for early intervention and better outcomes.  If a child fails to speak, communicate, interact, share, or respond to others, these may be early warning signs.  There appears to be no single cause, but ASD is likely the result of impaired early brain development.  The development of Autism seems to be fueled by interaction between genetic factors and prenatal and postnatal environmental factors.  Risk factors include advanced parental age, complications during pregnancy, and maternal exposure to environmental toxins.

Conventional treatment for ASD includes behavioral, occupational, and speech therapies.  Other treatments include prescription medications to help manage behaviors.

How Chinese Medicine can help

Acupuncture Physicians who specialize in Functional medicine have treatment options that can provide significant, measurable improvements for many people with ASD. Functional Medicine is often based on laboratory tests.  Your Acupuncture Physician may order specific lab tests to look for genetic variations, food sensitivities, excess heavy metals, gut-borne infections, intestinal permeability syndrome, and chronic infections such as Lyme disease.  These tests can yield critical insights into aspects of health in the autistic patient.

Genetic tests may include MTHFr (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase), COMT (Catechol-O-methyltransferase) and other genetic SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). MTHFr is an enzyme required to convert synthetic folic acid, to its bioactive form, L-Methylfolate.  The website offers an affordable resource for this type of genetic testing.  Food sensitivity testing may include muscle response testing, and blood or stool testing for IgA and IgG antibodies to specific foods (the most common offenders being wheat and gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar).  US Biotek & DiagnosTechs laboratories offer test profiles to assess these.  Gut imbalances and intestinal infections can include overgrowth of Candida yeast, parasites, and bacteria.  Genova Diagnostics offer test profiles to shed light the state of the ASD patients’ digestive health, as well and can quantify heavy metal burdens.

These tests then become a guide for nutritional supplement protocols, dietary guidelines, Chinese Herbal and acupuncture therapies, and BioSET/NAET desensitizations which can greatly assist autistic patients.  BioSET and NAET are treatment systems that can help minimize food sensitivities, reactions to environmental toxins and infections, and maximize immune and digestive function. These natural treatment methods often yield significant results, and offer a holistic alternative to conventional treatments alone.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and alternative medicine offer a greater wealth of treatment options to help those with autism.  Speak to your Acupuncture Physician or Doctor of Oriental Medicine today, or book a free evaluation to see if we can help you, your child, or a loved one affected by ASD.