TRI Publications

One- And Two- Year Outcomes of Treating Preschool Children with Autism with a Qigong Massage Protocol: An Observational Follow-Along Study

Author(s) Louisa Silva, Mark Schalock, Kristen Gabrielsen, and Gretchen Horton-Dunbar
Date April 29, 2016
Published in Alternative & Integrative Medicine
Citation Silva, LMT., Schalock, M., Gabrielsen, K. and Horton-Dunbar, G. (2016). One- And Two-Year Outcomes of Treating Preschool Children with Autism with a Qigong Massage Protocol: An Observational Follow-Along Study. Alternative & Integrative Medicine, 5:216. doi:10.4172/2327-5162.1000216


Background: Randomized controlled trials have repeatedly demonstrated that treatment with a five-month qigong massage protocol significantly reduces the severity of autism. The treatment protocol is known as Qigong Sensory Training (QST) autism massage and is given daily by parents and weekly by therapists for five months. Treatment reduces the tactile abnormalities that are universal in young children with autism and results in improved social skills, language and behavior. At five months, tactile abnormalities are reduced by 1/2, autistic behavior is reduced by 1/3, autism severity is reduced by 16%, and 6% of children have moved off the spectrum. What has not yet been done is to measure outcomes with longer-term treatment. This observational study investigates outcomes with up to 24 months of treatment. Methods: 75 children entered this observational study upon completion of five months of treatment with the QST protocol. They received daily parent treatment and monthly therapist treatment for the balance of the first year, and daily parent treatment without therapist support for the second year. Sequential evaluations were conducted at baseline (n=75), five months (n=75), 12 months (n=67) and 24 months (n=31). Results: Continued treatment resulted in continued improvement. At 12 and 24 months, mean tactile responses normalized by 57% and 72%, with 24% and 32% falling into the normal range; mean autism severity decreased by 27% and 44%, with 12% and 26% of children moving out of autistic range. Conclusions: Results demonstrated that longer-term treatment resulted in resolution of tactile impairment and continued improvement of social skills, language and behavior. The rate of coming off the spectrum (1 in 4 children by year-2) was far higher than the natural history of ASD would predict. Results support earlier recommendations to treat tactile abnormalities at the time of autism diagnosis in order to improve autism outcomes.

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