Parents who have children with autism will go to strange lengths sometimes to help their children out of behavioral problems. Acupuncture is definitely one of them, because most autistic kids aren’t just going to sit still and allow a stranger to insert needles into their body. Given that it is illegal to hold someone down for treatment of any kind, it’s quite a trick if parents and an acupuncturist can even make this kind of treatment work.
Professor Virginia Wong, from Hong Kong, has theorized that the practice of acupuncture on the tongue of an autistic child stimulates neural pathways in the brain that are currently not in use because of the disorder. The Chinese have already taken to using it because they believe that their 5,000 year old medicines and techniques can’t be wrong. Asian children with autism are growing in number, and Asian culture views it as a physical ailment blocked by something in either the Qi or the yin/yang.
It doesn’t exactly give any sort of boost to modern medicine, but it isn’t being ignored entirely either. The practice of tongue acupuncture is now running through Russia and Europe, and is most likely on its way to the U.S. Since the FDA long ago approved acupuncture for real and valid treatments of neurological issues, it’s safe to assume that they probably won’t have a problem with this either.
The practice of acupuncture is deeply rooted in the Chinese spiritual beliefs and beliefs about the body itself. The idea is to treat the problem part with an equal animal organ or intervene by blocking bad energy and helping the good energy replace it. To improve communication, argues Professor Wong and the Chinese population as a whole, speech and communication problems associated with autism should be blocked at the source and stimulated to encourage good energy to correct the problem.
For a lot of Caucasian Americans, this seems too good to be true or too “new age-y” for them to consider. A lot of Canadians certainly aren’t opposed to trying it, and their government has already approved of tougue acupuncture for autism. Whether or not it’s actually effective still remains to be seen because no study groups have come together to go through this type of therapy with their children and have the results documented. For the time being, it’s more than supposition that it has any effect at all.
Other forms of acupuncture for the treatment of autism are also in use in Asian countries. Following the same concepts behind the use of tongue acupuncture, and often used simultaneously, scalp acupuncture and laser acupuncture attempt to jostle the brain through neurological pathways. Without understanding any of the real causes behind autism, trying to treat it through neural blocking and stimulation doesn’t seem like it would do much at all. It is effective for treating chronic pain, but treating a disorder that no one knows for certain is neurological in origin just seems like parents are turning their children into human guinea pigs while trying to find something that works.