Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.

Two separate papers published in two scientific journals hold hope for children with autism through chiropractic care. One paper published in the March 2006 issue of Clinical Chiropractic reviews past studies on chiropractic and Autism. This paper recounts in clinical studies where children with autism are helped with chiropractic care. Most of the studies reviewed speak of problems in the upper cervical (neck) spine.

In addition to the Clinical Chiropractic paper, a study published in the March 9, 2006 Journal of Vertebral Subluxation (JVSR) compares two groups of children with autism and their response under chiropractic care. In this study 14 children diagnosed with autism were studied undergoing chiropractic care. Seven of these children received one form of chiropractic adjustments focusing on the entire spine while the other seven received a form of chiropractic adjustment focusing on the upper cervical spine.

The children in this study were diagnosed with autism at the Child Evaluation Center at the University of Louisville Medical School. The evaluation of any progress made was done by using the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) created by the researchers at the Autism Research Institute of San Diego, California. According to the JVSR study, the ATEC is a one-page questionnaire designed to be completed by parents, teachers, or caretakers. It consists of 4 subsets: I. Speech/Language Communication (14 items); II. Sociability (20 items); III. Sensory/Cognitive Awareness (18 items); and IV. Health/Physical/Behavior (25 items).

Each of the children in this study were scored according to the ATEC evaluation. Then, twice each week for the following 3 months, the children were checked and adjusted as indicated. Follow up ATEC evaluations were performed each month to monitor the progress.

The results showed that improvement of ATEC scores occurred in six of the seven children under upper cervical adjustment and in five of the seven children under full spine adjustment.  The children in the upper cervical group did show greater score improvements overall. In this group, two of the children improved so much that they no longer met the criteria to be classified as autistic. Overall, the study noted that the most common clinical aspects of improvement were in communication, verbal skills, eye contact, mood, and physical sport skills.

In a May 26, 2005 feature article from the "Health.telegraph" news service in Great Britain, comes a feel-good story of Max Willson, a young boy who had been labeled autistic. The story of Max's problems started at birth. Max was born in April, 1998 after a very difficult labor. The umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck. As he grew, Max's mother, Michaela soon noticed that Max was not developing in the same way that his elder sister had. His parents noticed that Max's eyes didn't focus, and his hand movements were more uncoordinated than those of other children his age.

Quentin, Max's father commented, "You never want to admit to yourself that you've got a backward child," he says, "but it was clear that he was very, very behind. He couldn't concentrate, was hyperactive and demanding." The Wilson's took their son to numerous doctors and received a variety of opinions including the diagnosis of dyspraxia and dyslexia.

Having tried all else the Willsons were close to placing Max on Ritalin when something happened. One day Quentin, Max's father, went to pick Max up from a birthday party he had been attending. Quentin noted that Max was acting up as usual, "he'd done his usual trick of sitting underneath the table for two hours". At that party, he met the mother of one of the other children who had been observing Max for the previous hour. She told Quentin that she thought Max's skeleton was out of alignment and suggested that he should see the chiropractor she had used.

Following that advice the Willsons took Max to see a chiropractor. Quentin recalls the first visit and day by saying, "It was just flicking the bones around his neck and shoulders, but that night, Max slept continuously until morning for the first time since his birth, nearly five years before."

Needless to say the Willsons were extremely delighted at their son's progress. Max's dad Quentin summed up their feelings by saying "He sleeps like a log and has lost all that weirdness. He no longer has a classroom assistant and we've taken him out of his second genteel preparatory school with five children in the class and put him into a little village state school where he's flourishing. He's still a bit behind because he effectively missed out on a couple of years of education, but you can reason with him and he's reading and writing and it's amazing. I can only put this down to the chiropractic."

The November/December 2003 issue of the magazine "Autism Digest" contained an interesting article on the subject of Autism and the effect of chiropractic care on those children. The article was authored by world known chiropractor for children, Dr. Joan Fallon. In her article she notes, "While it has regularly been associated with back pain or headache, increasing numbers of parents are seeking chiropractors for children and especially for children with developmental issues."

The article starts off by noting that Temple Grandin, an author of two books on autism, is herself autistic. The article notes that in her books she repeatedly discusses sensory integration difficulties as being the core of her autism. Additionally, a growing numbers of professionals also tout sensory difficulties as one of the hallmarks of autism.

Dr. Fallon describes this phenomenon by saying, "Sensory integration is defined as the disorganization of the multisensory input into the body. People who experience sensory integration problems have profound and often debilitating difficulty with touch, taste, smell, sound or visual input. Non-autistics can often experience sensory issues as well, such as the irritation we feel from a band playing too loudly, or an immediate headache from a certain smell. While these may be bothersome to the typical person, such sensory stimuli can be noxious to the autistic child and often manifest in infancy as colic and in the older child as hyperactivity, the “inability to listen, or unexplained behavior issues, especially in children who lack communication."

The article continues by stating that Chiropractic care should be the cornerstone of the sensory integration treatment plan for the Autistic child. Dr. Fallon notes, "Chiropractic care differs from many of the other therapies used with autistics in that it is directed to the heart of the problem: the lack of homeostasis in the body, which can, in turn, produce a disease state. Treatments are directed to the imbalances in the nervous system which inhibit sensory processing. By directly affecting the nervous system, chiropractic care for the autistic child can begin to change the many sensory integration issues by facilitating input into the organs and areas of the body involved in sensory integration, including the skin and the nervous system."

The article then explains that the imbalances in the nervous system are caused by "Subluxations" in the spine. "The presence of Subluxation can cause illness as well as a host of other problems for the child," contends Dr. Fallon. "The chiropractor administers an adjustment as the mainstream portion of care. The adjustment is administered in areas where there is the presence of a SUBLUXATION. Subluxation occurs where a segment of the spine consisting of two vertebrae and a disc between them, has lost their juxtaposition. Proper juxtaposition is necessary to maintain the integrity of the various systems that are located there, not the least of which is the nervous system."