Tag Archives: neurology

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Autism Spectrum Disorder and Chiropractic Care

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Chiropractic Care

The following are excerpts from a 2016 research paper on the improvements in a young child with Autism Spectrum Disorder following Chiropractic care.  I encourage you to read, discuss, and share.

Improvements in a 4-year-old with Autism Spectrum Disorder Following Chiropractic Care to Reduce Vertebral Subluxation

“Autism Spectrum Disorder is an early developmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction, with restrictive, repetitive behaviours, causing significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of function, that are not better explained by intellectual disabilities. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 1 in 68 children are classified as having Autism Spectrum Disorder, up from 1 in 110 in 2006. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects more than 400,000 children in the United States and is the third most common developmental disorder in children.”

“Gray’s anatomy states that the nervous system controls and coordinates every function in the entire body. A basic tenet of chiropractic care is that when there are disturbances in the nervous system, specifically by vertebral subluxation, the body’s ability to function is hindered. Regardless of the health condition, when a chiropractic adjustment is delivered with the intent of removing vertebral subluxation, the nervous system is able to operate more effectively. With this neurological interference removed, the body will be better able to adapt to its environment, leading to a higher quality of life.”


“A 4-year-old boy diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder presented to a chiropractic clinic by his mother and father. They explained that he had a “delay of language.” He was able to cry out and make guttural sounds, but was unable to formulate words or communicate.”

“The parents stated that the patient had experienced the flu, frequent colds, ear infections and allergies since birth. He was sick about four times per month, with each episode lasting 2-3 days, and was prescribed antibiotics each time. He also suffered from rashes, sore throats, eczema, coughing, vomiting, a runny nose, and dry skin on a regular basis. He frequently visited his medical doctor, hearing specialist and eye doctor.”


“The initial chiropractic examination revealed that the patient had a slight left head tilt and a left rotated pelvis during gait. The patient had a functional left short leg of approximately ½ inch.”


“Chiropractic care was initiates for 15 visits over a period of 8 weeks. Each visit, the patient was assessed using static palpation, motion palpation, and postural analysis, and vertebral subluxations were adjusted accordingly utilizing Diversified Technique.”


“After the delivery of the first adjustment, the patient made eye contact with the practitioner for the first time. On the 3rd visit, his parents stated that he seemed to be understanding direction better, but overall had been acting more aggressively. At the 4th visit, the parents stated that the patient was attempting to verbalize more, although he had not yet been able to formulate words. During the 6th visit, the parents stated that the patient had asked to “eat” that morning, and begun calling his aunt “aunty” when she was present. He also begun asking to go in the “car” when he went outside, and had been having significantly less temper tantrums. During visit 7, the father related that the patient had asked for a “hug” for the first time. He began learning to avoid hitting objects when using his tricycle prior to the 8th visit. The mother related on the 11th visit that her son had started calling her “momma” three days prior. On visit 13, the patient hugged the practitioner for the first time. By the end of care, the patient’s head tilt was barely visible, and the pelvic rotation was no longer apparent.”


“A 4-year-old boy diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder saw significant improvements in almost all areas of concern after 8 weeks of chiropractic care, as evidenced by both subjective reports from the parents and more objective scoring from the ATEC.”

Proposed Mechanisms

“While there is no known cause for Autism Spectrum Disorder research shows a significant role of the nervous system in the pathophysiology of the condition.”

“Regardless of the pathogenesis of the disorder, each symptom relates, either directly or indirectly, to aberrant sensorimotor integration and subsequent output. The relationship between chiropractic care and the positive improvements in patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder may lie in the influence of vertebral subluxation over the structures of the central nervous system that seem to aberrantly functioning and disconnected from one another.”

“Vertebral subluxation is a mechanical distortion of the spinal column causing nervous system interference and dysfunction.”

“A chiropractic adjustment specific to removing subluxation rests the joint and mechanoreceptor activity, changes the central integrative activity, changes the central integrative state of the central nervous system, and results in a more appropriate adaptation and response to the environment.”

“Because chiropractic care is used to correct disturbances in the nervous system caused by vertebral subluxation, its implementation can lead to an abatement of a variety of symptoms, although it is not used specifically as a treatment for any disease, illness or injury. The improvements in function in children with autism over a broad spectrum of areas may demonstrate a close connection between autism spectrum disorder, the central nervous system, and the role of the chiropractic adjustment.”

Autism, Chiropractic, and the Polyvagal Theory


Improvement in Autistic Behaviours Following Chiropractic Care: The Application of Polyvagal Theory and its Relationship to Pediatric Chiropractic


The following research article is a great intro into Polyvagal Theory with a practical application of that theory. This paper highlights 4 cases where improvements in Autistic behaviors following chiropractic care occurred.

When a body is stuck in a stressed state for his or her entire life, what are the ramifications? Addressing the parasympathetic nervous system through touch to impact how the body is perceiving its environment is very powerful and encouraging for many parents of children with who are undergoing significant challenges.

The following are excerpts from this 2016 research paper on the application of polyvagal theory to pediatric chiropractic care.

Improvement in Autistic Behaviours Following Chiropractic Care: The Application of Polyvagal Theory and its Relationship to Pediatric Chiropractic

When “stuck” in a sympathetic nervous system state, this paper mentions that: “The autonomic nervous system has traditionally been associated as being a duality; containing a parasympathetic portion (used for rest/digest), and a sympathetic portion (used for fight/flight). This dual system concept was shattered in 1995 when Dr. Stephen Porges, a behavioral psychologist at UNC Chapel Hill, introduced a paper on the polyvagal theory.”

“Three children that have been labeled on the Autistic Spectrum and one who had Oculomotor apraxia where selected for inclusion in this retrospective paper.”

“Chiropractic care included a combination of Network Spinal Analysis, craniosacral therapy based on Dr. Carol Phillips work, Webster’s sustained contact adjustments (a gentle form of diversified adjustment technique), and Activator Methods Technique. All adjustments were done at C2 and above or Sacrum and below, to engage the parasympathetic system.”

Patient 1: 7-year-old male, high functioning Autism

“After eight visits the mother reported improvements in her son’s autistic behaviors. She noted a decrease in looks of confusion and an increase in talking. The mother also noted a decrease in bedwetting and a decrease in response to food allergies. The mother also stated that the son had less “picky” food choices. On the 12th visit, the patient said he had won the “Most Improved Student” at the end of the school year awards ceremony. The mother stated “I cried, because I never expected him to win an award like this””

Patient 2: 5-year-old female, high functioning Autism

“At the end of four months of care, the mother noted that a recent Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) to quantify the improvement within four major categories had been performed, which looks at four areas: speech/language, communication, sensory/cognitive awareness, and health/physical/behaviour. The patient showed improvement in all categories.”

Patient 3: 4-year-old male, high functioning Autism

“After 22 adjustments, the mother reported increased initiating of conversations with adults and children at his school and had improved eye contact. He was able to participate in after-school activities that he formerly did not have the social skills to navigate. The parents also reported that since eight months of age, the child had poor eye contact, and had been involved in a social skills group with little positive change until he started chiropractic care.”

Patient 4: 4-year-old male, Oculomotor Apraxia

“After eight adjustments, the mother reported significant improvement in his ability to run without falling and advances in spatial awareness. By his 13th visit, the mother reported a decrease in tripping all the time and an increase in a desire to run. She also stated that he had better endurance (i.e. able to walk 5 hours at the Aquarium), able to nap better, had less moody outbursts, and less apprehension.”


“The social engagement system controlled by the vagus nerve has significant potential ramifications for a child on the Autistic spectrum or with neurodevelopmental issues. Many special needs kids share a common entry into this world, where one of three things happen: difficult pregnancy, difficult birth, or potential health challenges during their first year. These three issues may cause a sympathetic response to occur, thereby creating problems that may manifest early in life (i.e. nursing problems, colic/reflux, irritability, sleeping difficulties) or later (i.e. Autism, ADHD, Learning disorders). Hence, the idea of analyzing and using a force application within the parasympathetic system may alone be very beneficial for special needs children.”


Improvement in Speech and Coordination in a Child with Developmental Delays following Chiropractic Care


The following are excerpts from a case report involving a child with developmental delays improving in his speech and coordination following chiropractic care.

Improvement in Speech & Coordination Following Chiropractic Care in a Child with Developmental Delays and Vertebral Subluxation: A Case Report & Review of Literature

“Clinical Features: A two-year-old male presented for chiropractic consultation and possible care at a chiropractic clinical training centre with developmental delays in speech and coordination. Symptoms included below average locomotion skill, delayed auditory comprehension and expressive communication, and difficulty swallowing certain textures.”

“Intervention and Outcome: The patient was cared for with Diversified Technique appropriate for his age. Outcome measures independently applied demonstrated improvement in the infants gross and fine motor skills based on comprehensive and baseline Peabody Developmental Motor Scales-2 (PDMS-2) scores while improvements in auditory comprehension and expressive communication were measured with Preschool Language Scale-5 (PLS-5).”

“Conclusion: The successful chiropractic care of an infant with developmental delays was described. This study provides supporting evidence that infants with similar complaints may benefit from chiropractic care.”

Throughout the case the Activator adjusting instrument was also used.

Case Report Narrative

“Postural examination revealed and elevated right shoulder compared to the left side.”

“On the first visit, the patient received chiropractic adjustments through the use of an Activator Instrument.”

“The patient responded well to care and a steady improvement in his speech and coordination was noted.”


“This case report informs clinical practice and research on the possible benefits of chiropractic care in children with developmental delays through chiropractic adjustments to address the presents of subluxations.”

Dr. Callum Peever is a Chiropractor in Mississauga at Erin Mills Optimum Health.  He is also the active Co-President of the Halton Peel Chiropractic Society, Regional Director in Toronto for Activator Methods International, the past Director of the Halton Urban Core Community Health Centre Chiropractic Clinic, and a Clinical Instructor teaching the Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique to fellow Chiropractors.