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Autism & the Brain-Body Connection

According to the CDC 1 in 50 children will now be diagnosed with autism.

That is up from 1 in 10,000 in 1970s. To say there is a problem is a gross understatement.

It’s time for society to start asking relevant questions. What has changed in this short amount of time to cause such an alarming rise?

This article won’t go into the various causes, but will instead look at one of the most overlooked factors affecting the quality of these children’s lives.

Life is How We Perceive It

I love the quote above because it incorporates two things I love: philosophy and science. No one would argue that our inner experience is a result of the cultural and familial “lens” we see the world through. Our beliefs and experience shape the way we see and interact in the world.

However, many people fail to contemplate how our nervous systems shape our perceptions and ability to respond and adapt to our environments in a healthy manner.

Think of your nervous system as a sponge. It constantly soaks in information through the five sensory organs.

Scientists have estimated that our sensory organs take in over 11 million bits of information every second and some estimates have total brain processing at 11 trillion bits per second!

Much of the sensory information is processed in the part of the brain known as the cerebellum, which is located just above the neck.

The incredible connectivity of the brain, however, is beyond our full comprehension. The image below depicts the amazingly intricate and complex neuronal connections.

With the promise of current and new technology, we are learning more and more about how the brain works. What is clear is that in order to be able to perceive and respond to our environments correctly, we must be able to receive and process information properly.

Some of the most important data traveling to the brain is proprioceptive information. Proprioception is from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own”, “individual” and perception. It is the process by which tiny nerve endings known as proprioceptors detect and relay information about our body to our brain so that we can properly understand and respond to where our body parts are in relation to other parts and our environment.

If the information received by the proprioceptive system and other neurological components is interfered with in any way as it travels to the brain, then naturally, our ability to respond to that information appropriately will be affected.

This is where a common physical condition known as vertebral subluxation comes into the picture for children within the spectrum and with other disorders as well. A vertebral subluxation is a misaligned vertebra affecting the function of the nervous system as the delicate spinal cord travels through the spinal column. This misalignment alters the information being delivered to the brain, the brain’s response, and ultimately the quality of life of the individual.

The quality of our lives is dependent upon the information we receive and whether or not we are able to respond appropriately. Vertebral subluxation is a major source of interference to the nervous system that goes undetected in the majority of children within the autism spectrum.

Two studies, one featured in the February 2007 issue of Clinical Neurophysiology (1) and the other in March 2010 issue of the Chiropractic Journal of Australia (2), explore the issue of how vertebral subluxation impacts sensory processing and modulation and are worth reviewing.

In another study featured in the March 2006 issue of Clinical Chiropractic, researchers carried out a series of chiropractic adjustments on 26 autistic children over a 9-month period. Improvement was seen in certain reflexes and sensations, spinal motion, and improvement of other health problems.

Many of the children were able to discontinue medications aimed at controlling their behavior; bladder and bowel control improved; some children started to speak; eye contact and attention span improved while hyperactivity and aggressive behavior were reduced. Also, five children were able to attend regular classes at school for the first time.

I am currently conducting research into how vertebral subluxation correction impacts the quality of life of children who have been diagnosed with autism and associated disorders. If you would like to see if your child has a vertebral subluxation and could benefit from care in our office, contact us at (619) 363-5073.

Learn more about Vertebral Subluxation

Autism & the Brain-Body Connection

How Chiropractic Care Impacts the Brain and Quality of Life of Children with Autism

This presentation explores one of the most common forms of neurological stress and how restoring normal function can result in quantifiable improvements in language, sociability and behavior in children with autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions.

To schedule a consultation, call (619) 363-5073

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Dr. Steve Tullius is a San Diego pediatric and family chiropractor. He is actively involved in chiropractic education and research and is particularly focused on helping children with severe neurological conditions such as autism, other pervasive developmental disorders, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and epilepsy.

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