Scalp Acupuncture And Children With Autism: Information For Parents

Experts believe that autism now affects around 1 in 68 children and is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States. The disorder affects children in different ways, and doctors and parents must consider multiple treatment options to help kids cope with the condition. Aside from drugs and therapeutic interventions, some parents are now considering the potential benefits of scalp acupuncture. Learn more here.

What to expect from scalp acupuncture

Scalp acupuncture is one of several techniques that focus on a specific part of the body. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe that the scalp has multiple acupuncture points that can affect other key parts of the body, including the stomach, heart and bladder.

Generally speaking, practitioners use the forward part of the scalp near the face to treat problems with the upper body, while the rear part of the scalp can help issues in the lower body. Notably, with scalp acupuncture, the practitioner will often insert the needles deeper into the tissue beneath the scalp surface. He or she will also rapidly stimulate the needles in short bursts to achieve the desired effect.

Acupuncture and autism

In Chinese medicine, practitioners classify autism as the Syndrome of 5 Delays. In simple terms, this means the condition can affect five crucial functions– standing, walking, hair growth, tooth eruption and speech. Chinese practitioners believe that conditions like autism occur when one or more of these functions are imbalanced. Treatment options like acupuncture attempt to redress the imbalance.

In Chinese medicine, the heart, spleen and kidney rule the body's reason and awareness. For example, in this field of medicine, the heart holds the Mind (or Shen) and controls all your mental functions, including individual and short-term memory. Practitioners believe that certain types of acupuncture (including scalp acupuncture) can help address an imbalance in these organs, which manifests itself as autism.

Research and studies

A study by Egyptian researchers found that scalp acupuncture was able to boost language skills in a controlled sample of 20 children. The researchers divided the children into two groups. One group received only language therapy, while the second group received language therapy and scalp acupuncture. After a two-month period, the second group of children showed greater improvement in their language skills.

The researchers believed that scalp acupuncture helped the children's brain functions. The research was particularly effective because the children were between the ages of 4 and 7, meaning that their cerebrums were still growing. As such, their brains responded particularly well to the stimulation.

A similar study looked at a group of 30 children with autism. Researchers used scalp acupuncture on the children daily, as well as music therapy and other structured education methods. The researchers then used various autism diagnostic tools to measure the results. The study showed that the scalp acupuncture relieved the children's autism symptoms, leading to improved language ability and social skills.

Challenges parents may face

Autism can lead to either hyposensitivity or hypersensitivity in children. Hypersensitive children can struggle with the slightest stimuli, reacting aggressively to a gentle touch or even the sound of an unfamiliar voice. In these cases, it's often difficult for a practitioner to successfully administer scalp acupuncture.

Most autistic children need time to adjust to the process and sensation of acupuncture. You may need to spend time at home explaining the process and showing your child images of the acupuncture needles, to help them understand what to expect and to accept that the process isn't painful.

Parents should also look for a therapist with experience of working with autistic children. He or she can help you guide your son or daughter through the process.  An experienced practitioner will often invite you and your child into a treatment room, simply to become familiar with the surroundings before an acupuncture session actually takes place.

Studies show that scalp acupuncture can benefit children with autism. Talk to an acupuncture practitioner or a clinic like Health Atlast Fountain Valley in your area for more advice.