Children with autism respond to acupuncture

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2012, 12:00am


Chinese medicine practitioners treating a group of autistic pupils at a Fanling school reported marked improvement in patients' symptoms after just a couple of dozen treatments - a finding that could bolster scientific research in the field.

Practitioners from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions Workers' Medical Clinics have been visiting the Buddhist Po Kwong School twice a week in an outreach programme to administer acupuncture and other treatments to 22 pupils. More than a third of the school's 280 pupils have been diagnosed as autistic.

Lam Kar-yeung, a senior Chinese medicine practitioner with FTU Clinics, said applying acupuncture to patients' heads helps soothe their nerves, improve blood circulation and restore vitality. He said it normally takes 20 to 30 rounds of treatment to see an improvement.

Lam said the findings would be included in an ongoing study by Baptist University into the potential uses of Chinese medicine to treat autism. About five out of every 10,000 Hong Kong children are diagnosed with the developmental disorder, according to a 2007 University of Hong Kong study.

'Autistic children are not mentally retarded; they simply cannot control their emotions well,' Lam said. 'We just need to stabilise their emotions so that they can better concentrate and help them develop their talents.'

One 14-year-old pupil, Man Hoi-sing, is a particularly successful case. The boy's mother, who did not use Western medicine to treat her son out of fear of its potential side effects, said he was prone to slobbering, sleeplessness and angry outbursts before receiving acupuncture treatments at the school.

'After receiving the treatment for three months, he is more emotionally stable,' she said. 'He sleeps well, seldom slobbers and concentrates better on his studies.'