Severe speech deficit is difficult to treat autistic characteristics. The dysfunction mirror neuron system is thought to be related to autism communication, social and emotion regulation. Hypothetically acupuncture may serve as an ideal intervention method to adjust the dysfunction MNS, via its corresponding acupoints.
To observe for efficacy and safety of acupuncture for non-verbal autistic children.
Five non-verbal autistic children received acupuncture for 20 sessions over 4 weeks. Assessment tools were adopted pre- and post-acupuncture including Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) for symptomatology, Gesell Development Diagnosis Scale (GDDS) for developmental quotient (DQ), Reynell Developmental Language Scale (RDLS) for language, Pediatric Evaluation Disability Inventory (PEDI) and Clinical Global Impression-Improvement (CGI-I) scale for functional status.
For ATEC, non-significant improvement in the “Sociability” domain (p=0.05) was noted, while significant improvement of general DQ (P=0.018) was revealed regarding GDDS, which was attributed to the improvements of sub-domain of fine motor as well as adaptability. For RDLS, there were no significant changes in the comprehension or production domains, while nonsignificant improvement (P=0.052) in the self-care domain of PEDI was revealed. For CGI-I, much improvement was reported in 2 cases, on the “social relatedness and imitation” and “social relatedness and communication” domains respectively, while minimal improvement in other 2 cases and no change in remaining 1 case were also stated. All children were compliant with all acupuncture sessions.
A short intensive course of acupuncture might improve some core features of non-verbal autistic children. Further high quality trials are needed.