Improvement Following Chiropractic Care in a 7-Year-Old Diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Case Report & Review of Literature

New Research Sheds Light on Autism

Chiropractic Can Help
ATLANTA, Georgia – 2023

Recent research reporting on improvement in a 7-year-old undergoing chiropractic care reveals that chiropractic may play an important role in helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related neurodevelopmental disorders.

The research, reported in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal, & Family Health – Chiropractic, includes a review of the literature supporting the role of chiropractic in adults and children suffering from a number of disorders that share their origin with ASD.

“Research is revealing that there is a relationship between abnormalities in the spine, the nervous system and brain” stated Dr. Matthew McCoy, a chiropractor, public health researcher and editor of the journal that published the study. “Basic science research shows that the proper development of the brain relies on proper structure and movement of the spine from an early age.’

Research has shown not only that the brain relies on normal structural integrity and joint movement, but that complex neurochemical communication and pathways involved in helping humans to “feel good” are tied into spinal biomechanics and their related neurological pathways.

“It makes perfect sense when you think about it” stated McCoy “We see this shocking increase in the diagnosis of AD and other neurological disorders both in children and in adults.’

Researchers believe that the increase in the diagnosis of such disorders as ASD, ADHD, pervasive developmental disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders, have their root in a “perfect storm” of abnormal, structural spinal shifts and spinal development coupled with cultural changes.

“Not only does television watching, computer use, computer games and lack of exercise cause an increase in obesity and diabetes in our children” remarked McCoy “These habits spill over into adulthood and affect the development and functioning of our brains.”

According to McCoy, “People’s nervous systems need the constant stimulation of movement in order to develop and function properly. Abnormal position or movement of the spinal vertebra can develop from structural shifts. These structural shifts can lead to obstruction of the nerves and it is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct.”

The 7-year-old boy in this study had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD. He had poor social skills, stimming, lack of comprehension, and decreased executive function. He preferred to be alone, playing involved lining toys up, and would not verbalize when he was hungry. He was delivered via c-section and breastfeed until the age of two. Speech and occupational therapy helped although he still struggled with comprehension and communicating effectively.

The chiropractor examined him and found structural shifts in his neck, mid back, and low back in addition to abnormalities with eye tracking and reflexes. Muscle imbalance, spasms, decreased range of motion, and neurological testing confirmed these findings. These structural shifts can lead to obstruction of the nerves and it is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct.

Following chiropractic adjustments, his symptoms dramatically improved. He became more imaginary during play, had more fluid movement, and eye tracking improved. Abnormal reflexes diminished and he began to become more talkative and able to communicate better as his overall demeanor improved.

The study’s author called for additional research to investigate the clinical implications of chiropractic in this population.