ICNC Abstracts, ICNC 2018

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Acupuncture for non-verbal autistic children: a randomized controlled trial
Wen-Xiong Chen, Gang LIU, Hong-Sheng LIU, Zhi-Fang HUANG, Jin-Yu HUANG, Si-Yuan YANG

Last modified: 2018-09-09


Background: Speech deficit is one of the most difficult to treat characteristics of autism. The mirror neuron system (MNS) dysfunction is related to communication, social and emotion regulation of autism. Hypothetically, acupunture may serve as an ideal intervention to modity the dysfunction MNS to improve the symptomatology of non-verbal autistic children, via its corresponding acupoints.

Objectives: To study the efficacy, safety and brain neurochemicals of acupuncture for non-verbal autistic children.

Methods: Design: Randomized simple-blind controlled trial. Non-verbal autistic children were randomly assigned to acupuncture group (n=24) or control group (n=19). The acupuncture group received acupuncture for 20 sessions over 4 weeks. The assessment tools including Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist for symptomatology, Gesekk Development Diagnosis Scale/Wechsler Preschool and Primary or Children Scale of intelligence for developmental quotient/Intelligence Quotient, Reynell Developmental Language Scale for language, Pediatric Evaluation Disability Inventory (PEDI) and Clinical Global Impression-Improvement (CGI-I) Scale for functional status, and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) for brain neurochemical, were adopted.

Results: There were significant improvements in the self-scale (p=0.045) and self-care assistant (p=0.019) domains of PEDI, and CGI-I (p=0.003) in the acupuncture group compared with control group. As for the MRS, the acupuncture group showed significantly increased the concentrations of cerebral N-acetyl-aspartate (p=0.041) and Creatine (p=0.035) at left Inferior Frontal Cortex. Mild side effects of irritability during acupuncture were observed.

Conclusion: A short intensive course of acupuncture is useful to improve specific functions of non-verbal autistic children, especially for self-care ability, which may be attributed to brain neurochemicals changes after acuputure.


Autism spectrum disorder, acupuncture, Non-verbal, Children, Randomized controlled trial, Mirror Neuron System

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