Acupuncture For Autism Found Effective

Acupuncture For Autism Found Effective


Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In a double-blind randomized controlled trial, University of Hong Kong researchers reveal that electroacupuncture improves core functions in children with ASD, especially language comprehension and self-care ability. True acupuncture was compared with sham acupuncture and only true acupuncture provided significant clinical outcomes. Based on the evidence, University of Hong Kong researchers conclude that “acupuncture might be a useful adjunctive therapy in early interventional programs for children with ASD.” [1]

The research is among the first double-blind randomized clinical trials investigating the efficacy and safety of electroacupuncture for the treatment of ASD.

A total of 55 patients participated in the study and underwent post-treatment assessment. The treatment group received electroacupuncture on acupoints upon the scalp.

For the sham acupuncture group, the total number of needles, electroacupuncture settings, and duration of treatment time were identical to those of the true acupuncture group; however, sham acupuncture patients received needling at non-meridian sites that were 3–5 cm lateral to the selected acupoints for the true acupuncture group. Both groups received conventional intervention or educational programs for ASD. Two patients from the EA group also received neuroleptic drugs during the study.

Multiple instruments were used to measure patient outcomes.  The researchers add that the measurement tools were chosen based on the researchers’ 25 years of experience with ASD interventions. In addition, assessment tools were applied by parents and professional assessors that were blind to the allocation of groupings. Parents were instructed on how to properly use the assessment tools.

The researchers conclude, “A short, four-week (12 sessions) course of electroacupuncture is useful to improve core functions in children with ASD, especially for language comprehension and self-care ability.”

The researchers reference a report noting that “About 40% of ASD children have used complementary and alternative medicine, with acupuncture being the most common modality.” [3] The results of the current investigation showed significant changes in favor of true acupuncture treatment, including improvements in language comprehension, self-care assistance, social initiation, receptive language, motor skills, coordination, and attention span. They add that most patients demonstrated good compliance with very limited side effects.


[1] Wong V, Chen W X, Liu W L. Randomized Controlled Trial of Electro-Acupuncture for Autism Spectrum Disorder [J]. Alternative Medicine Review, 2010, 15( 2) :136-146.
[2] Chen W X, Liu W L, Wong V. Electroacupuncture for children with autism spectrum disorder: pilot study of 2 cases [J]. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2008, 14(8) :1057-1065.
[3] Wong VC. Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in autism spectrum disorder (ASD): comparison of Chinese and Western culture (Part A). J Autism Dev Disord 2009;39:454-463.

Source: HealthCMi