Abstract

Autism is commonly associated with sensory and self-regulatory disturbances. This article presents a randomized controlled study evaluating the effect of a 5-month intervention directed toward improving sensory impairment, digestion, and sleep in 46 children with autism < age 6. The intervention, Qigong Sensory Training (QST), is a qigong massage intervention based in Chinese medicine. It is two-pronged: Trainers work with children directly 20 times over 5 months, and parents give the massage daily to their children. Improvement was evaluated in two settings—preschool and home—by teachers (blind to group) and parents. Teacher evaluations showed that treated children had significant classroom improvement of social and language skills and reduction in autistic behavior compared with wait-list control participants. These findings were confirmed by parent data, indicating that the gains had generalized across contexts. A model and supporting data for understanding and treating sensory and self-regulation problems in autism is presented.

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