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Autistic Child Improves After Chiropractic Care


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an early developmental disorder identified by deficits in social communication and interaction, restrictive and/or repetitive behaviors which causes significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of life that can not be explained by intellectual disability.  ASD commonly presents deficits in three areas: social interaction, social communication, and imaginative thinking.

 The current study involved a 4-year-old boy who was diagnosed with ASD.  His parents described that he had a “delay of language.”  The patient also injured himself a lot and in ways that would cause him pain even though he did not react as if he was in pain.  The patient was sick about four times per month with each sickness lasting 2-3 days and he was given antibiotics each time.  On a daily basis, he suffered from rashes, sore throats, eczema, coughing, vomiting, a “runny nose”, and dry skin.  The patient had poor vision but did not like wearing glasses and always took them off his face.  He exhibited repetitive behaviors such as constantly rolling a ball in his hands.  Lastly, his parents stated that he still wore diapers because he was unable to be potty trained.

Upon examination, the doctor of chiropractic determined that the patient had a slight left head tilt and left rotated pelvis.  In both face up and down positions, the patient’s left leg was shorter than the right by a half an inch.  He also had a diminished response to sound on the left side of his body compared to the right.  When the patient inhaled, his lungs made crackle sounds.  When he turned his head to the right, his eyes seemed to lag up and to the left.  The doctor of chiropractic determined that the patient had spinal misalignments in his cranium and right sacrum.

The patient began chiropractic care over 8 weeks for a total of 15 visits.  At each visit, except visits 2 and 8, the patient’s spinal misalignments were adjusted using high velocity, low amplitude thrusts.   At visits 3, 5, 7, 12, and 13, the doctor of chiropractic assessed and adjusted any cranial misalignments in order to address the patient’s asymmetrical circumference of his cranium.  After the patient’s first adjustment, he made eye contact with the doctor of chiropractic for the first time.  On his third visit, his parents reported that he understood direction better but had been acting more aggressively.  At the patient’s 6th visit, his parents reported that he asked to “eat” that morning and had started calling his Aunt “Auntie” when she was present.

During the patient’s 7th visit, his father reported that he had asked for a “hug” for the first time.  On the 11th visit, his mother reported that he had started calling her “momma.”  By the end of care, the patient’s head tilt was hardly visible and his pelvic rotation was no longer visible.  At the patient’s final visit, the doctor of chiropractic asked the patient’s mother to complete two Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklists (ATEC).  One for the patient’s status prior to care and one for the patient’s status after care.  The ATEC has four sections to assess speech/language/communication, sociability, sensory/cognitive awareness, and health/physical behavior.  The higher the scores in each section, the higher the impairment.  The patient improved in all sections of the ATEC:

1)    Speech/language/communication score decreased from 23/28 to 15/28 for a 34.8% improvement.

2)    Sociability score decreased from 28/40 to 14/40 for a 50% improvement.

3)    Sensory/cognitive awareness decreased from 20/36 to 10/36 for a 50% improvement.

4)    Health/physical behavior decreased from 35/75 to 24/75 for a 31.4% improvement.


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MLA Citation: Pellegrino, Anthony.  “Improvements in a 4-year-old with Autism Spectrum Disorder Following Chiropractic Care to Reduce Vertebral Subluxation.”  Journal of Pediatric, Maternal, & Family Health2016.2 (2016): 50-56.