Acupuncture for Intellectual Disabilities

Acupuncture for Intellectual Disabilities

By Dr. Caroline Xiong (Dip Acu, MD, Ph.D.)

Effect of Acupuncture and Chinese Remedial Massage on Children with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Intellectual disability

Does your child suffer from ASD, ADHD or other intellectual disabilities?

Has your child tried many types of therapies which have not made much of a difference?

Are you struggling and feeling exhausted from helping your child with their special needs?

Some of the signs and symptoms of intellectual disabilities include:

Chinese Medicine for ADHD
  • Difficulties with social interaction and communication
  • Lack of flexibility in his or her thinking and behaviour
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and phobias
  • Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity
  • Having a hard time communicating their specific wants and needs
  • Struggling with taking care of themselves
  • Requiring special teaching and training to be able to learn
  • Needing support to solve everyday problems
  • Inability to establish interpersonal relationships
  • Not being able to live on their own

Although no cure is currently available for these conditions, Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can help significantly to improve their signs and symptoms. It is important to recognize that all individuals with intellectual disabilities are capable of learning and have the ability to live a fulfilling, happy life.  There are an increasing amount of reports and studies showing that Acupuncture and Chinese Remedial Massage have been successful as an intervention to improve the quality of life for children with ASD, ADHD and other intellectual disabilities.

How does Acupuncture and Chinese Remedial Massage help Children with ASD, ADHD and other intellectual disabilities?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) thinks of the body and mind as part of the same circular system that includes the organs and the central nervous system.  The brain and emotional functionality are strongly affected by the functioning of bodily organs. Children with intellectual disabilities are primarily ruled by three organ systems: the Heart, Spleen and Kidney. The Heart Qi holds the mind and rules the mental functions, including the emotional state of the individual and their short-term memory. The Spleen Qi is linked to the mind’s ability to study, memorize, and concentrate. The Kidney Qi rules over long-term memory. A disturbance in any of these areas can lead to displays typical of intellectual disability characteristics.

TCM also considers that the main cause of intellectual disability in children is the Qi (body energy) of imbalanced channels in the brain due to the disharmony of organs.  This includes deficiency of Kidney essence, Heart Qi, Spleen Qi, stagnation of Liver Qi and a disturbance of phlegm and fire. Acupuncture and Chinese Remedial Massage are used to stimulate specific acupuncture points, adjust the acupuncture channels and organ function, motivate Qi and blood to flow and nourish the brain, remove the phlegm and fire that disturb the mind and to eventually achieve physical and mental harmony.

‘Yin-yang’ and ‘Qi-xue’ are very important concepts in TCM. In an acupuncture channel system, the main interpretation of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ is symmetry and balance. Acupuncture and Chinese Remedial Massage can help keep internal yin and yang in balance. It is also believed in TCM theory that acupuncture can strengthen the vital essence or energy of the human body, which is called ‘Qi’ in TCM, and remove the blockage of channels. Qi can promote between yin and yang to coordinate them in harmony so as to make an amiable, stable and peaceful internal environment.

What are the benefits of Acupuncture treatment?

Chinese Acupuncture Caulfield

Among many Acupuncture methods, Chinese Scalp Acupuncture has been shown to effectively improve conditions of children with intellectual disabilities. Research has found that the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain of autistic children have significantly reduced blood flow. The frontal lobe of the brain is closely related to emotional activity and the temporal lobe is close to the speech centre. Scalp Acupuncture selects specific areas at the scalp surface and delivers strong signals to more strongly stimulate the underlying brain cells. More and more clinical observations have reported that after a series of Scalp Acupuncture treatments, many children with intellectual disabilities have shown increased eye contact, enhanced awareness of the environment, improved capability in language understanding and expression, reduction of anxiety, impulsive movements, restlessness during sleep, abnormal behaviour such as hitting themselves, and improved motor and balance function.

What is the best age to begin Acupuncture or Chinese Remedial Massage?

Early intervention means giving children diagnosed with a disability the support they need as early as possible. Children who begin Scalp Acupuncture treatment or Chinese Remedial Massage at earlier ages (2-8 years old) usually see rapid and significant effect, because 2-8 years old is an important period for brain function development.

Although early intervention will give your child the best chance to progress, it is never too late to start changing things. Brain development goes on into early adulthood, so even if your child is not diagnosed until they start school, it is not too late to make a real difference in your child’s development.

How long is treatment recommended?

Acupuncture or Chinese Remedial Massage for the treatment of ASD, ADHD and Intellectual disability is a longer process than for the treatment of pain or other chronic conditions. Remember, many therapies take time to make a difference. Gains that might seem small at first, add up. In many cases, parents will see improvement in 6-10 treatments. However, the longer regular treatment continues, the more benefits and improvement continues. It is also suggested that your child combine health and natural diet advice with their Acupuncture treatment to receive the best results.

If  you have a child suffering from ASD, ADHD or Intellectual disabilities, make an appointment with our Acupuncturist Dr Caroline Xiong today to see how she can help. You can book an appointment by calling 9193 2170 or book online here. You can also learn more about Acupuncture here.


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Acupuncture for Intellectual Disabilities

Centre 4 Health
Acupuncture Caulfield
368B Hawthorn Road
Caulfield South
VIC   3162