2002-02-09 / Columnists

Health and Harmony

ADD, ADHD, Autism And Chiropractic Care
By Dr. Nancy Gahles

ADD, ADHD, Autism And Chiropractic Care

For my continuing coverage of treatment strategies for this spectrum disease, I recently attended a seminar given by Dr. Joan Fallon, a pre-eminent chiropractor with over 18 years experience in the treatment of children with special needs.  Joan Fallon, D.C., FICCP is a Fellow of the International Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics. She is a former Assistant Professor at Yeshiva University in New York City and the author of numerous professional papers and texts. It was a great pleasure to hear her speak from her own clinical experience, and her heart, about how to help your child with their spectrum disorder.

"Chiropractic care should be the cornerstone of the sensory integration treatment plan for the PDD child." The sense disturbances of these children include their difficulty with being touched, with loud noises, and they have fine and/or gross motor skill issues. "Chiropractic theory tries to account for the lack of homeostasis in the body which can in turn produce a disease state."

This is an imbalance, an inability to receive and process the information that we are receiving from our environment through our nervous system and to integrate this information so that it makes sense and then to react appropriately to the stimulation. Normally, we do this everyday, in countless ways, without thinking. To a child with one or more of these imbalances it is incredibly difficult to "make sense" of the stimuli. Chiropractic treatments are directed to the imbalances of the nervous system so to facilitate sensory integration.

Dr. Fallon spoke about some of the basic aspects of chiropractic care that are beneficial to the child with a PDD spectrum disorder.

1) DEEP PRESSURE. The deep pressure aspect of the chiropractic adjustment is helpful to the child by conveying information to the child's nervous system. An entire tract of the spinal cord is devoted by the body to the deep pressure aspect of input into the body. Works by Temple Grandon indicate that deep pressure is a calming stimulus to the child. It has been Dr. Fallon's experience that while the child may be tactile defensive, and not want to be touched, "chiropractic care often times breaks down that barrier very slowly."

2) THE ADJUSTMENT. The chiropractic adjustment can effect much change in the PDD child. Aside from the general deep pressure aspect of the adjustment, the more specific pressure applied to the motor unit restores its function and the resultant motor and sensory nerve function is restored.

3) ILLNESS. Chiropractic adjustments increase the levels of neurotransmitters in the body. When neurotransmission is increased, immunoglobulin levels are also increased. This affects the immune system of the child. Homeostasis is restored and good health ensues.

In my own clinical experience as a chiropractor I have found that because of the vast majority of proprioceptors along the spine and up to the head, the functions of balance and perception of self in relation to the space you occupy are favorably impacted.  With regard to the learning disabilities and ADD, the facilitation of the hypo-functioning neural pathways that the chiropractic adjustment affects, is a cumulative stimulation that the body uses to "remember" how to process information effectively.

In summary, it is best to remember that your child is unique. No one strategy is right for every person. You are your child's best advocate. Learn about all the treatments available and use your resource people and professionals to discuss them. It's a team approach.  Just like Life. Take in all the information, integrate it so that it "makes sense" (thank you, Dr. Joan) and respond appropriately.  Be patient.  Things don't always work out the way that we expected them to, but you can always change based on that experience. Trust your intuition. If you are not sure, wait, ask for help, and move when the picture becomes clear to you. It's a journey. Be brave. Be courageous.  Be happy.

May the Blessings Be!

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