Skip to content

Chiropractic Research

Chiropractic for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. It can also cause limited and repetitive patterns of behavior.

Autism spectrum disorder usually begins in early childhood. Children with autism spectrum disorder generally show symptoms within their first year. 

A small number of children appear to develop normally in the first year, and then go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months of age when they develop autism symptoms.

What causes autism spectrum disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder has no single known cause. Given the complexity of the disorder, and the fact that symptoms and severity vary, there are probably many causes. Genetics and environment may play a role.  

Several different genes appear to be involved in autism spectrum disorder. For some children, autism spectrum disorder can be associated with a genetic disorder, such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome. For other children, genetic mutations may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder.

Researchers are currently exploring whether factors such as viral infections, medications, complications during pregnancy, or air pollutants play a role in triggering autism spectrum disorder.

Risk factors

The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is rising. It’s not clear whether this is due to better detection and reporting, a real increase in the number of cases, or both.

Autism spectrum disorder affects children of all races and nationalities, but certain factors increase a child’s risk. These may include:

  • Your child’s sex (boys are four times more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder than girls)
  • Family history (families who have a child with autism have increased risk of having another child with the disorder)
  • Other disorders
  • Extremely preterm babies (babies born premature may have increased risk of autism)
  • Parents’ age (there may be a link between children born to older parents developing autism)

Complications from autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder can cause problems with social interactions, communication, and behavior which often leads to:

  • Problems in school and with successful learning
  • Employment problems
  • Inability to live independently
  • Social isolation
  • Stress within the family
  • Victimization and being bullied

How is autism spectrum disorder treated?

While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.

The goal of treatment is to maximize your child’s ability to function by reducing autism spectrum disorder symptoms. Early intervention during the preschool years can help your child learn critical social, communication, functional and behavioral skills.

Common treatment methods include:

  • Behavior and communication therapies
  • Educational therapies
  • Family therapies
  • Medications

Chiropractic for treating autism spectrum disorder

Chiropractic for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder is often overlooked, as chiropractic does not treat any specific disease; however, chiropractic is designed to maximize your body’s ability to function, which has been shown to reduce autism symptoms and support development and learning. 

Case studies showing positive change in children with autism spectrum disorder after chiropractic care are becoming more and more abundant.

Research supporting the treatment of autism spectrum disorder with chiropractic

chiropractic for autism spectrum disorder

“Chiropractic care and behavior in autistic children,” a case study published in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, describes 26 randomly selected autistic children who received 9 months of upper cervical specific chiropractic care. During this period, they had four examinations in which their behavior and neurological response was monitored. Autism rating scales used were Childhood Autism Rating Scale and Modified Autism Behavior Checklist.

Changes noted in the children during the study included:

  • Children going off all medication (Ritalin, Dexadrine)
  • Improved bladder control
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved speech
  • Decreased ear infections
  • Chronic colds stopped or decreased
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved eyesight
  • Improved behavior
  • Five children enrolled in full-time inclusion classroom settings for the first time

Another case study published in Chiropractic Pediatrics titled, “Case study–autism,” presents a seven-year-old female diagnosed with autism who has a history of sexual and physical abuse. The girl would slowly turn in circles in place while singing an incomprehensible song with a glazed stare and blank expression.

Spinal examination revealed a right posterior and superior C1 subluxation. She was adjusted twice a week.

After 10 months of chiropractic care, she was able to carry on conversations and reported an improved ability to carry out commands. Additionally, cognitive development progressed to where she was able to learn, read, and participate in public school.

“Developmental communication disorder,” a case study published in Today’s Chiropractic, describes a two-year-old boy diagnosed with “developmental communication disorder.” He was non-responsive to any external stimuli, even when receiving an injection. He did not respond to any sound or touch.

Chiropractic analysis revealed an axis (C2) subluxation. The child began receiving chiropractic adjustments, and on his third visit, began to cry. That was the first time he responded to anything happening around him. On his sixth visit, he started to follow certain commands and stopped making repeated hand motions. He started to talk after his 12th office visit.

At present, the child has an extensive vocabulary and is slightly hyperactive. The author notes he is probably making up for lost time!

How long does it take to see results?

Patients have reportedly experienced improvement in as little as one visit, although a treatment plan involving continued chiropractic adjustments is recommended.

Everyone’s situation is different, which is why it’s necessary to receive a comprehensive chiropractic evaluation to assess your child’s needs. 


If your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, we invite you to schedule an appointment with our chiropractic office to receive a comprehensive consultation where one of our doctors can assess your child’s situation, properly diagnose the issue, and get your child on a treatment plan to maximize their ability to function, reduce symptoms, and improve quality of life!