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A model and treatment for autism at the convergence of Chinese medicine and Western science: First 130 cases



To present a model for autism showing that impairment of sensory and self-regulation is the core deficit that underlies delays in social/language skills and abnormal behavior in autism; and to demonstrate the efficacy of a treatment for autism based on Chinese medicine.


Children with autism under 6 years of age were assigned to treatment or wait-list conditions. A total of 130 children were treated and the results compared with 45 wait-list controls. Treatment is a tuina methodology directed at sensory impairment—Kai Qiao Tuina. The treatment was a five-month protocol that was implemented daily by trained parents via trained support staff. The effects of treatment on the main symptoms, autistic behavior, social/language delay, sensory and self-regulatory impairment, as well as on parenting stress, were observed and compared.


The treatment had a large effect size (P<0.0001) on measures of sensory and self-regulation. The evaluations done by pre-school teachers demonstrated improvement in the measures of autism (P<0.003), and were confirmed by evaluations done by parents (P<0.0001). There was a large decrease (P<0.0001) in parenting stress.


Sensory and self-regulatory impairment is a main factor in the development and severity of autism. Treatment of young children with autism with Kai Qiao Tuina resulted in a decrease in sensory and self-regulatory impairment and a reduction in severity of measures of autism.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Louisa M. T. Silva.

Additional information

Supported by the Curry Stone Foundation, Spririt Moutain Community Fund, and Northwest Health Foundation

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Silva, L.M.T., Schalock, M. & Ayres, R. A model and treatment for autism at the convergence of Chinese medicine and Western science: First 130 cases. Chin. J. Integr. Med. 17, 421 (2011).

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  • Kai Qiao Tuina
  • Qigong sensory training
  • autism treatment for children
  • sensory impairment
  • abnormal sensory responses
  • autism
  • early intervention for autism