When I'm in the community and I tell people that I take care of children through chiropractic, some of them look at me as though I might be making it up. The truth is, chiropractic is growing leaps and bounds and getting astounding results in kids. One of the areas is autism and spectrum-related disorders. So to better understand the question, "Well, how can chiropractic help with autism?", I thought I'd jot some things down in my blog to help you understand.
WARNING: This might get lengthy but I've learned talking to parents is there is one thing they will not short in life - and that's their kids health.
How can chiropractic help with autism??
As is in this case and many other difficult to answer questions, the answer is multi-faceted but it really just comes down to one thing... the Central Nervous System.
Anyone who knows anything about autism, knows that the nervous system is greatly affected in this disorder and many challenges in children with autism stem from the nervous system, such as hyperactivity, attention issues, sleep challenges, behavior problems, social issues, sensory processing issues, etc.. Also, the central nervous system is intimately linked to the digestive system and immune system (the other 2 systems affected in autism). This can lead to bowel and bladder problems, autoimmune challenges, and more..
Lets first start with the possible ways the nervous system can be damaged or injured. The primary mode of injury I see is what we term Traumatic Birth Injury. For many autistic children, their nervous systems have been damaged from the start due to birth injury (use of forceps or vacuum) or even prior to birth (in utero) because of being in the breech position or uterine constraint (which can happen when mother is given pitocin to increase contractions). It must also be clear that even natural and fast deliveries can lead to problems, and the problems or injuries can come later in life as well. The area that is most commonly injured during the birth process is the upper neck and skull. The risk of injury to these areas, and the resultant issues from it, go up exponentially as intervention levels go up. C-sections, forceps, vacuum extraction, and prolonged pushing all lead to greater risk of traumatic birth injury to the infant's head and neck. Unfortunately, no one in the medical system is trained to check (or address) theses sorts of injuries, so most of the time they go completely unmentioned to parents. If the injury were addressed by a trained professional shortly after it occurred, most of the neurological injuries associated with it could be prevented. If we are are truly going to win the battle for autism in this country, we must learn how to prevent it, not cure it. This area would be the first vital step.
Once that injury occurs, it can put pressure on the brain stem and spinal cord, as well as the spinal nerves in the area. When there is a misalignment in the neck and a joint fixation complex (subluxation) it leads to improper neurological "signaling" or "communication" into and out of the central nervous system. This challenge to the communication system of the body is one of the primary reasons so many children with autism have challenges with sensory processing, social interaction and behavior, and learning.
All of this puts the nervous system into a chronic or permanent state of stress. This is often referred to as the stress response, or flight/fight response. It is a response that is vital to short term reactions, but detrimental when "stuck on" for an extended period of time. Most children with autism have been in fight/flight from their first moments. This is why we see such a high correlation with infantile colic, ear infections, digestive disorders, and autism. Again, if our system were designed to address these challenges immediately, rather than waiting for the symptoms to appear, far fewer children would be suffering with autism and related disorders. One can simply observe a child with autism and see the "stress and fear" in their eyes. It is such a joy to see this look change in their eyes after they progess with a series of adjustments.
Since the body is in a chronic stress state, it wreaks havoc on the immune and digestive systems as both of them are "down-regulated" during a chronic state of stress. For example, if we are being chased by a bear then our body doesn't need to worry about digestion or keeping us safe from invading viruses/bacteria.... the number one goal is to out run the animal chasing us. Sustained neurological stress responses can lead to an increase in constriction, cramping, and inflammation in the digestive system. When the digestive system is in this state it does a very poor job of breaking down foods and other substances, leading to even further inflammation and irritation that can spill over into the bloodstream and cause an immune response.
The immune system faces similar challenges... when we are in a constant state of neurological stress the immune system dysfunctions and leaves a child (or adult) susceptible to allergies, asthma, eczema, and other inflammatory type reactions. All of this leads to more and more inflammation and irritation, and the cycle continues. This is why so many of these reactions and challenges are what we refer to as "viscous cycles" that essentially continue to feed each other and lead to greater and greater challenges. Somewhere, this cycle must be broken, and that is where chiropractic adjustments come into play.
By addressing the injury and resultant subluxation, a specific chiropractic adjustment restores proper balance and alignment to the head and neck, and thus can help restore balance and function to the central nervous system. Depending on the severity and duration these injuries have been present, sometimes repeated adjustments can create positive change in a step-by-step process that leads to improvement in behavior, digestion, immunity, learning, sleep, and more. As I have stated before, the sooner we start, the better our chances of having success with care.
If your family is going through these difficulties please do not hesitate to contact our office today to find out how we can help. Our care is safe, it's effective, and affordable. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and I look forward to serving you and your family.
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