Before the 1990s, it was very rare to see a child with autism in your office, but over the last 13 years, the rate of autism has dramatically risen to epidemic proportions. In the old days, the rate was usually one child per every 10,000, but now in certain regions of the country it is one in every 150 or less.
Autism is a biological brain disorder that affects a child’s communication, social and cognitive functions. Technically it is referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder because children range in severity from profoundly severe to mild learning disabilities. Autistic children usually appear normal in appearance but they demonstrate ritualistic behaviors like spinning or repeating the same verbal phrase.
The causes have not been found and are being publicly debated in the last few years because many professionals and parents blame vaccines and their ingredients like Thimerosal.
In a recent release by Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., director of the Autism Research Institute, he states, “As a full-time professional research scientist for 50 years, and as a researcher in the field of autism for 45 years, I have been shocked and chagrined by the medical establishment’s ongoing efforts to trivialize the solid and compelling evidence that faulty vaccination policies are the root cause of the epidemic. There are many consistent lines of evidence implicating vaccines, and no even marginally plausible alternative hypotheses.”
Other causes that have been presented include certain genetic markers, environmental toxins, pregnancy problems and poor diet.
The DAN! Protocol
In 1995, Rimland, who is the leading researcher in the field of autism and father of an autistic child, gathered a group of professional to discuss the rise in autistic children and figure out how to treat them. From that initial meeting a set of protocols emerged in the first real effort to realistically care for autistic children called the DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) Protocol.
Operated through the Autism Research Institute, the DAN! Protocol addresses combination of restrictive diets, chelation and vitamin supplements as a means to produce changes in autistic behaviors in the children. Although it is not a cure, many children have achieved better health and behavior which enhances their life and learning ability.
These practitioners examine the children by running extensive testing to determine how their body is working on a functional level. Most of the children have problems with their immune system and digestive tract that can be managed through vitamins and restrictive diets. Because the protocol is based in natural therapies, some chiropractors have become DAN! practitioners with the added benefit of doing adjustments.
Autism Reading List
Autism Research Review International newsletter
Biological Treatments for Autism & PDD : What’s Going On? What Can You Do About It? by William Shaw, Bernard Rimland, Bruce Semon and Lisa Lewis
Children With Starving Brains: A Medical Treatment Guide for Autism Spectrum Disorder by Jaquelyn McCandless
DEFEAT AUTISM NOW! Biomedical Assessment Options for Children with Autism and Related Problems by Jon B. Pangborn, Ph.D., and Sidney M. Baker, M.D.,
Enzymes for Autism and other Neurological Conditions by Karen L. DeFelice
Is This Your Child by Doris Rapp, M.D.
Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis
Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A Mother’s Story of Research and Recovery by Karyn Seroussi and Bernard Rimland
“The protocol that they utilize are things that chiropractic have been talking and preaching for years, it is nothing new to us,” says Donald Blair, a chiropractor near Toledo, Ohio. “Chiropractic has always had a concern about vaccinations, chiropractic has always talked about nutrition in its coordination with health and we have one more thing to offer which is the chiropractic adjustment, which works great in these kids.”
Chiropractic and Alternative Techniques
Most chiropractors report that using upper cervical techniques on autistic children show promising results.
“You can use a variety of techniques just so long as you get to the same approach of trying to fix the subluxation that is involved,” relates Blair. “They are definitely more attentive, more cooperative and less hyper. If we can do that, then they are much more capable of learning.”
Long Beach chiropractor Rochelle Neally, who uses an Activator along with a child-size head piece drop with autistic children, says, “It is almost scary because with one to two visits the kids do not have drainage or infections. They are happier and their speech is shooting through the roof because now they can hear and they can hear themselves. They listen better; they are paying more attention; there is a sparkle in their eyes.”
There are many types of techniques and specific therapies that chiropractors are using to help these children.
|Special-Needs Chiropractic Centers
For many years, the Oklahaven Children’s Chiropractic Center and Kentuckiana Children’s Center have been serving the health needs of special-needs children, including autistic children. Recently celebrating its 40th year anniversary, Oklahaven provides chiropractic care for indigent children diagnosed with such conditions as cerebral palsy and autism. The children who come to the center have not had success with traditional medicine and have occurred large medical debts.
A similar center is Kentuckiana, which designs individual programs to help the child with special needs with the goal of having each child reach his or her optimum potential. The center follows the DAN! Protocol and offers testing, evaluations, chiropractic care, mineral analysis and nutritional planning to patients regardless of their income.
In Southern California, Rochelle Neally, D.C., is working with Kidstreet Institute in Long Beach to create another unique center for special-needs children. “I want to create a space that is a one-stop place for parents,” says Neally.
She currently offers her chiropractic services to the children at Kidstreet when they come in for speech, occupational and/or ABA therapy. The owner is looking for a bigger facility to create a little village to serve as a resource center.
“I have just finished writing a grant for the National Institute of Health on the neurological effects of chiropractic and autism in children. The American Society of Autism requested the National Institute of Health increase research on autism by $500 million in the next five years. I feel confident our grant is supporting that request,” says Neally.
CranioSacral Therapy: CranioSacral Therapy, or craniopathy, uses methods and techniques akin to Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT).
In a study completed by John E. Upledger, D.O., titled “An Etiologic Model for Autism,” he concluded that CranioSacral Therapy has provided impressive improvements in autistic children by the manual stretching of the restrictive dura mater. Many believe the growth of the skull and brain are contributors to autism and this therapy provides some relief from the membranous restriction imposed upon brain and skull bones.
“Autistic children are not going to lie still long enough, but craniopathy seems to work real nice in that they do seem to relax quite a bit when you work on those areas,” says Blair, who has a 12-year-old autistic son. “When you work with cranial, it is a lot of pulling and holding. You are dealing a whole lot more of the percentage of the central nervous system inside the skull and it definitely has its reactions.”
Chiropractic Neurology: Chiropractic neurology is similar to medical neurology except it uses natural, non-surgical therapies such as adjustments, brain exercises and stimulation by light, heat, water, sound and electricity.
“From my perspective as a chiropractic neurologist, there is inflammation of the brain and the first thing to do is localize which areas are most affected or affected by it,” says John Donofrio, D.C., president of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board. “We do neurological testing by looking at their eyes and putting them through a series of tests with eye movements.”
He adds, “Since the major memory learning system is driven by the cerebellum, we start incorporating the cerebellum to start driving the cortex to function again. We try to start stimulating the cerebellum with exercises as well as sensory input to the different areas of the brain along with proper nutrition.”
Tympanogram: Using an instrument similar to a common otoscope, a group of chiropractors are having good results in preventing ear infections. The tympanogram blows a small amount of air into the ear which bounces off the tympanic membrane to a computer which measures fluid behind the ear.
Neally has been successfully using this technique with many special-needs children. “Some of these kids have chronic ear infections because their immune system is depressed. If there is fluid in the ear, it sounds like everything is underwater.”
Applied Kinesiology: Doctors using kinesiology, conduct examinations that rely on knowledge of functional neurology, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and biochemistry derived from many disciplines including chiropractic and osteopathy.
|The New Autism
Researchers have discovered that many children with autism exhibit extensive health problems including heavy metal toxicity and leaky gut. Here is a brief list of the major conditions that might be causing a problem.
Digestive Function: Autistic children often exhibit chronic digestive problems that are linked to changes in mood and behavior.
Intestinal Permeability: Many autistic children have “leaky gut,” a condition which may increase their body’s toxic burden and make them more prone to antibody responses to various environmental antigens.
Essential Fatty Acids: Significant imbalances of fatty acids in red blood cell membranes have been reported in patients with autism.
Element Imbalances: Exposure to heavy metal toxins, especially when combined with nutrient mineral deficiencies, pose a threat to the healthy neurological development of children.
Detoxification: An inability to properly detoxify harmful environmental substances could play an important role in autism.
Amino Acids: These basic building blocks of proteins form neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood and behavior.
Food Sensitivities: Many caregivers of autistic children report a worsening in symptoms after the children eat certain foods.
Source: Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory
Based on a study using applied kinesiology with children with learning disabilities that printed in the British Osteopathic Journal, “All of the children in the treatment group made significant gains in IQ scores… [S]ignificant improvements were observed both at home and at school with regard to motivation, attitude and performance.”
EEG Neurofeedback: Some doctors use this technique on autistic children, but it is most effective with higher functioning patients because it requires concentration and understanding. It is a technique that helps patients train their brain to regulate bodily functions by using a computer which measures brainwave activity.
Sensors are attached to the patient’s head to measure electrical activity which is presented on a computer monitor and the patient attempts to control their brain functions. With this ability, patients have been known to improve sleep patterns, manage chronic pain and control emotions. It is not a cure; it simply helps patients organize the brain to function better.
Nutritional Counseling and Intervention
Most autistic children have food allergies because their digestive system is not properly breaking down certain foods and additives in their diet. Commonly, these children can not tolerate gluten (grain products) or casein (dairy products) aside from food dyes, sugar and yeast.
According to Great Smokies Laboratory, they may display increased permeability of the intestinal mucosal layer, allowing more peptides from foods to enter the bloodstream and trigger immune reactions that may be associated with behavioral abnormalities.
By doing blood testing, laboratories can identify immediate (IgE) and delayed (IgG) sensitivities to hundreds of common foods and environmental substances. With the results, a doctor develops an individualized restrictive diet.
“You can see visual signs like red cheeks, red ears, circles under the eyes, they are all signs of allergies,” says Arturo Volpe, D.C. “We want to build a healthy diet. Gluten and casein may or may not be a problem, but first we have to avoid all the junk foods, the dyes, the additives, sugar. Virtually most of the kids will show some improvement when you start working on the diet.”
|Informative Web Sites
Autism Network for Dietary Intervention – www.autismndi.com
Autism Research Institute (DAN! Protocol) –
Autism Research Unit – osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/autism/
Autism Society of America – www.autism-society.org
Good News Doctor Foundation –
Great Plains Lab – www.greatplainslaboratory.com/home.htm
Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory – www.gsdl.com
Natural Health Solutions – www.doctorvolpe.com
Getting Into the Business
The chiropractors caring for autistic children enjoy their work. They all agree that it takes a lot of time and energy, but that the rewards are great.
“I have some kids who have become normal. One of them was severe; he was clearly autistic. He is now a normal first grader although he is a bit quirky. It is a wonderful success. That is a real motivator in this job, you see results,” says Volpe. “You do have to make a special time just for them. You can’t incorporate them into a normal, busy day because it takes too much time. We probably spend 45 minutes to an hour because you might have to take 10-15 minutes just to get them on the table or in a position where you can start working with them,” says Blair.
Attending a DAN! conference is the best way to learn about autism along with reading some recent books (see reading list).
“This is a labor of love. It takes a lot of training and knowledge but it can be achieved,” says Volpe. “The advantage I think we have as chiropractors is that we are focused on paying attention to the person. Chiropractors understand the power of nourishing the body properly because a lot of this can be reversed, maybe not 100 percent.”
Blair says, “There is a tremendous amount of kids that have definitely had marked improvements. I think the adjustments are key. When you combine the adjustment and nutrition, we are one up on everybody else because it has a whole lot to offer. I would love to see chiropractic as the mainstream for these kids.”
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