I was honored to be a part of the event! I hope that those whom I had the chance to speak with left feeling educated and hopeful about the options for their loved ones.
So, how is CranioSacral Therapy helpful for individuals on the autistic spectrum?
First it is helpful to mention Dr. Upledger’s research based on children with autism and their response to therapy. He found that autism spectrum disorders are partially caused by a loss of flexibility and probable inflammation of the membrane layers surrounding the brain. When researchers from Johns Hopkins University tested the cerebrospinal fluid of children with autism, they found “increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, neurological activation and inflammatory changes.”
Why does this matter?
When there is inflammation or compromise, atypical forces are placed on the brain tissue causing adverse responses in the body, such as in the nervous system. If you can, imagine a brain sitting in a box with room on the sides and the top. Now, imagine that same brain in a smaller, tighter box. In the second scenario, it is easy to imagine that there would be more tension placed on the brain. This happens with inflammation and an inflexible “box”. The result can be quite chaotic to the signals and messages sent to and from the brain leading to some of the challenges and behaviors that children on the autistic spectrum face.
OK….now what can CST do to help?
As a CranioSacral Therapist it is important to reiterate that I treat what I find and what I feel. I do not treat someone as a diagnosis or go in to a treatment session with an agenda. With that being addressed, the goals for treating someone diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder who presents with membranous tightness and inflammation, would be to balance and enhance the mobility of the membrane layers surrounding the brain, improve the movement of the cerebrospinal fluid through the cranium and brain tissues, and to improve areas of the body that are presenting with restriction patterns (tissue, fascia, and bony alignment).
What results can be expected from a CranioSacral Session for someone with an autistic spectrum disorder diagnosis?
From my experiences, I have had responses that include: decreased stimming, improved attention, improved communication (even from non-verbal children), desire to be touched, improved eye contact, overall body calming, better academic performance, decreased self-injurious behaviors, and improved sleep. I have had children that I have worked on who have put their head on my lap for me to work on them, who have stayed still longer than ever before, and who have expressed that they loved how it made them feel.
What if my child cannot/will not lay on a table to be treated?
I am very adaptable. I have a swing, couch, bean bag chairs, table, chair, and the floor to work and I am happy to treat your child where they need to be. I am also open to having the session be on and off the table with breaks on the swing or to run and jump. My hope is to keep your child regulated and comfortable, so that we can work together to create a trusting relationship and facilitate positive changes.
If you know anyone with a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum, please let them know about CranioSacral Therapy and how it can help!
1. Upledger JE. CranioSacral Therapy and the Reversal of Pathogenic Processes Study Guide. Upledger Institute Publishing: 2005.
2. Wanveer T. Autism Spectrum Disorder: How CranioSacral Therapy Can Help. Massage Today, Vol. 07, Issue 07, 2007
3. Williams D. Autism: An Inside-Out Approach. Jessica Kingsley Publishers: 1996.