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Mind-Body Medicine and Autism

Introduction

Mind and body practices focus on the interactions between the brain, mind, body, and behaviour.

Mind-body practices include:

  • meditation-based activities such as deep-breathing exercises, guided imagery, hypnotherapy and progressive relaxation 
  • TCM/martial arts based activities such as acupuncture, qi gong, tai chi and yoga
  • other practices including the Feldenkrais method, the Alexander technique, pilates, Rolfing Structural Integration, and Trager psychophysical integration.

The idea behind mind-body practices is that the mind and the body can be used to affect physical functioning and to promote health.

Aims

Various claims have been made for mind-body practices. For example, one review of acupuncture reported a study which claimed: ‘The results showed statistically significant improvements in comprehension, cognition and parental reports regarding social initiation, receptive language, motor skills and attention span in those who received [acupuncture].’ 

Evidence

Determining the benefits of mind-body medicine for autistic people is difficult because it includes such a wide range of practices. We must wait for further research of sufficiently high quality to be completed.

Risks and safety

Many mind-body practices, such as tai chi, appear to be relatively safe as they rely on slow, careful movements. However some mind-body practices, such as acupuncture, may pose some risks to a small number of people: For example, according to an FDA report, ‘Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA, in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used. Still, complications have resulted from inadequate sterilization of needles and from improper delivery of treatments. ... When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects, including infections and punctured organs.’


Related Pages

Related Glossaries


Quick link:
http://www.researchautism.net/mind-body-medicine
Updated
15 Feb 2019