Autism and Chiropractic
Written by Dr. Adam Coats
Today, it's estimated that 1 out of 88 children, including 1 in 54 boys, are diagnosed with autism. Depending on who's doing the math, this represents a 600 - 1,000% increase over the last twenty years. To deny that we have an epidemic on our hands would be foolish.
What exactly is autism? According to the DSM-5, the diagnostic criteria to accurately diagnose autism is pretty extensive. In 1943, Leo Kanner, who was the first to describe autism, described it as "the inability to relate to and interact with people from the beginning of life, the inability to communicate with others through language, an obsession with maintaining sameness and resisting change, a preoccupation with objects rather than people, and the occasional evidence of good potential for intelligence."1
With that being said, the next question we should ask ourselves is, "what causes autism?" Is it genetic? Is it environmental? Is it a deficiency in the immune system? Is it abnormal chemistry that is occurring in the brain? According to Dr. Robert Melillo, one of the most respected specialists in childhood neurological disorders, autism is a brain development issue. In his best-selling book titled "Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders – and What Parents Can Do Now" he describes the cause of autism as being due to certain environmental factors turning off the expression of key genes involved in building the brain, which interferes with normal brain development. This causes a developmental problem affecting the functions primarily on the right side of the brain, meaning that either the left brain is growing too fast or that the right brain is growing too slow. Either way, it creates a right-brain deficit and the symptoms that we typically see with autism. He goes on to say that this is the only theory that can explain all of the symptoms seen with autism.2
It primarily affects the right hemisphere because the right hemisphere is the primary hemisphere developing in the womb and for the first two to three years of life. Timing is everything when it comes to brain development. Everything is scheduled to happen in a very precise order in a very specific period of time. If an important gene is supposed to be turned on but it's actually turned off, then the window of time is missed and the learning doesn't take place. This is why some kids learn to walk but never learned to crawl, and it's a serious issue.
Obviously, prevention is the best option. To learn all the different ways to decrease your chances of having a child with autism, I recommend reading Dr. Robert Melillo's book and following his step by step guidelines.
However, if you already have a child with autism, chiropractic care could be a good addition to the solutions you're already implementing. We know that 90% of stimulation and nutrition to the brain comes from proper movement of the spine.3 Different types of trauma and stress causes the joints of the spine to move improperly which interferes with the brain's ability to communicate with the rest of the body. If a time frame was missed because a certain gene was turned off and the body was supposed to learn something that it didn't, do you think that would be a stressful situation? By ensuring that the spine and nervous system are functioning properly, and that the joints of the spine are moving properly, you'll be providing the greatest opportunity for proper stimulation and nutrition to reach the brain. Thus providing the optimal environment for the brain to grow and develop.
I recommend finding a chiropractor that has additional training through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). These chiropractors have further training in kids and specifically kids with autism, ADD, ADHD, and other neurological disorders. Both myself and Dr. Michelle are well underway to receiving our certification through the ICPA.
1 Kanner, L. (1968). Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact. The Nervous Child, 35(4), 100-136. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
2 Melillo, R., (2012). Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders – and What Parents Can Do Now. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
3 Sperry, Roger. Nobel Laureate. 1981
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