It has been proven that scalp massage effects the dispersement of endorphins in the brain. Women and men alike receive pleasurable stimulations when the scalp is rubbed rotationally from the temples to the base of the neck. People who sit in a salon or barber chair for a shampoo and cut are immediately relaxed.
While this is a very effective means at calming some children with autism, it doesn’t work for all of them. Taking it a step farther, some parents actually use scalp acupuncture for the treatment of autism. It’s much more common in the Asian communities where acupuncture is thought to cure just about anything.
Yet, in this instance, acupuncture for parts of the scalp over areas of the brain of an autistic child have clearly shown some brain activity and muscular control not seen before. More test studies need to be conducted because the only study performed should never be considered the final word on this form of treatment. It’s worth the skepticism it receives because the children in the test study showed improvement both before and after the test, which makes no sense at all. It was also combined with a speech and language course that was a little more intensive. Correlation is not causation and causation definitely does not equal a correlation.
Other children involved in this type of study globally are showing a potential increase in many areas thought to be “abandoned” but the autistic child. Without the proper study parameters in place, it’s not known if the scalp acupuncture is truly effective or if the environment is causing the children to have spikes in muscle movement and vocal stimulation. These children always appear as though they want to talk, but we’ve never been sure it was possible for those who are nonverbal.
Children are responding and have responded to this treatment, so parents who are interested in trying something different may be encouraged to try scalp acupuncture for their children.
At any rate, it certainly beats the more strange and unusual forms of treatment for children with autism. It wasn’t too long ago that some doctors thought a good healthy dose of electricity would overhaul the children’s brains and “reboot” them such that they would be “normal” children again. Now it’s understood that electroshock therapy for anyone just doesn’t work the way they thought it did, and for most patients it doesn’t work at all or makes things worse.
Tongue acupuncture is another treatment endorsed by the acupuncturists for the treatment of communication problems in children with autism. Along with these two types of acupuncture, laser acupuncture has now been added as well. Autistic children who are extremely sensitive to hot and cold should probably avoid this treatment because of the laser’s involvement.