Acupuncture in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Reference work entry


Acupuncture is one of the commonest forms of complementary and alternative medicine used by parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in search of a “cure.” It is a heterogeneous form of therapy, with different methods of stimulation (manual or electrical) on different acupoints (on the body, tongue, scalp, ears, etc.), using different schedules. The therapeutic rationale of acupuncture is mainly based on theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the biological mechanism of action is not fully understood. Because of heterogeneity of ASD subjects recruited for acupuncture trials, variations in the type of acupuncture used, and lack of standardization of selection of acupoints, more studies need to be conducted to define the role of acupuncture as an add-on treatment modality for ASD.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Autism Spectrum Disorder Traditional Chinese Medicine Sham Acupuncture Aberrant Behavior Checklist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Allam H, ElDine NG, et al. Scalp acupuncture effect on language development in children with autism: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14(2):109–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen WX, Wu-Li L, et al. Electroacupuncture for children with autism spectrum disorder: pilot study of 2 cases. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14(8):1057–65.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cheuk DKL, Wong V, Chen WX. Acupuncture for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Cochrane Database of Syst Rev. 2011;9:CD007849. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD007849.pub2.Google Scholar
  4. Fang F, Wang QL, et al. 16 cases of autistic children with integrated traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine treatment. Chin J Pract Nerv Dis. 2008;11(10):115–6.Google Scholar
  5. Jia SW, Sun TT, et al. Visualized study on acupuncture treatment of children autism using single photon emission computed tomography. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2008;28(10):886–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Jiang WH, Wang YH. Acupoints selected by Danjie method for treatment of autistic children with stereotyped behaviors. Med Indus Inf. 2005;2(14):93.Google Scholar
  7. Ju W, Shi XM et al. Acupuncture, massage-based treatment for 13 autistic children with language disorder. Proceedings of 3rd national children’s rehabilitation academic conference and 10th national symposium of cerebral palsy, China. 2008; pp. 267–269.Google Scholar
  8. Liu G. Acupuncture combined with music therapy for autistic disorder: clinical and animal study. PhD, GuangZhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine; 2006.Google Scholar
  9. Liu G, Yuan LX. The etiology and syndrome differentiation of child autism in traditional Chinese medicine. Liaoning J Tradit Chin Med. 2007;34:9.Google Scholar
  10. Liu G, Yuan LX. Acupuncture for autistic children: a clinical research. Liaoning J Tradit Chin Med. 2008;35(2):273–4.Google Scholar
  11. Liu ZH, Zhang HY et al. Clinical research of head acupuncture for autistic children. Abstracts of WHO congress on traditional medicine, satellite symposium on acupuncture and human health China. 2008; pp. 255–256.Google Scholar
  12. Luo GF, Lu ZR, et al. 35 children with autistic disorder treated by Jin’s three needles. Chin Acupunct Moxibustion. 2006;26(4):632.Google Scholar
  13. Ma RL, Yuan Q, et al. Effect of acupuncture combined behavior intervention on children with autism. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2006;26(5):419–22.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Ramey D, Buell PD. A true history of acupuncture. Focus Altern Complement Ther. 2004;9:269–73.Google Scholar
  15. Sun J, Sun X. Shi yong she zhen xue = Shiyong shezhenxue. Beijing Shi, Ren min jun yi chu ban she. 2008.Google Scholar
  16. Wang CN, Shang SY, et al. The influence of electroacupuncture plus behavior therapy on social adaptive behavior ability in autism children. Shanghai J Acupunct Moxibustion. 2006;25(12):91–2.Google Scholar
  17. Wang CN, Liu Y, et al. Effects of electroacupuncture combined with behavior therapy on intelligence and behavior of children of autism. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2007;27(9):660–2.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Wong V. Trial of traditional Chinese medicine (tongue acupuncture or TAC) in visual disorders – a pilot study. 5th congress of European paediatric neurology society (EPNS). Taormina area, Italy. Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2003;7(3):284–376.Google Scholar
  19. Wong CL. Acupuncture and autism spectrum disorders assessor-blind randomized controlled trial. Master of Philosophy, The University of Hong Kong; 2009.Google Scholar
  20. Wong V, Sun JG et al. (13–15 November). Pilot study of efficacy of tongue acupuncture in neurologically disabled children with severe drooling problem. 5th World Conference on Acupuncture (WFAS) Seoul Korea; 2000.Google Scholar
  21. Wong VC, Chen WX. Randomized controlled trial of electroacupuncture for autism spectrum 379 disorder. Altern Med Rev. 2010;15(2):136–146.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Wong VCN, Chu VLY. Autism spectrum disorder and traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture). In: Garralda E, Raynaud J-P, editors. Increasing awareness of child and adolescent mental health. New York: Jason Aronson; 2010.Google Scholar
  23. Wong V, Sun JG. Research on tongue acupuncture in children with autism. Joint congress of ICNA and AOCNA 2002 – the 9th international child neurology congress & the 7th Asian & Oceanian Congress of child neurology, satellite symposium on autism/neuromuscular disorders, Hong Kong. Brain Dev. 2002;24(5):319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wong VCN, Sun JG. Randomized control trial of using tongue acupuncture in autism spectrum disorder using pet scan for clinical correlation. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 (in press).Google Scholar
  25. Wong VC, Sun JG. Randomized controlled trial of acupuncture versus sham acupuncture in autism spectrum disorder. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(5):545–553.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wong V, Sun JG, et al. Use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) (tongue acupuncture) in children with neurological disorders – pilot study of 100 cases. 3rd EPNS congress – European Paediatric Neurology Society, Nice. Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 1999;3(6):A21(198).Google Scholar
  27. Wong V, Sun JG, et al. Double blind randomized placebo-controlled trial using tongue acupuncture in children with autistic spectrum disorder. 4th European paediatric neurology symposium, Baden-Baden. Eur J Neurol. 2001a;5(5):A82.Google Scholar
  28. Wong V, Sun JG, et al. Randomized control trial of using tongue acupuncture in children with autistic spectrum disorder. 17th World Congress of Neurology. London, 17–22 June 2001. J Neurol Sci. 2001b;187 Suppl 1:S329–30.Google Scholar
  29. Wu H, Wu ZY. Trinity of Chinese medicine treatment of autism. J Chin Med. 2006;3(11):116–7.Google Scholar
  30. Xi YF, Liu YY, et al. Efficacy of intelligence-increasing acupuncture method for improving linguistic function in autism children. Shanghai J Acupunct Moxibustion. 2007;26(5):7–8.Google Scholar
  31. Yan YF, Wei YY, et al. Effect of acupuncture on rehabilitation training of child’s autism. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2007;27(7):503–5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Yuan Q, Luo G M. Chinese-English explanation of Jin’ 3-needle technique Shanghai, Shanghai ke xue ji shu wen xian chu ban she. 2004.Google Scholar
  33. Yuan Q, Chai T, et al. Effect of acupuncture for autism in children an observation of 40 cases. J Guangzhou Univ Tradit Chin Med. 2007;24(3):208–11.Google Scholar
  34. Yuan Q, Wang RC, et al. Observation on clinical therapeutic effect of Jin’s 3-needling therapy on severe autism. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2009;29(3):177–80.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhang SK. Clinical observational study of 12 children with autistic disorder treated by acupuncture. Zhejiang J Tradit Chin Med. 1997;6:207.Google Scholar
  36. Zhang Q, Yu R-y, et al. Effect of acupuncture in improving intelligence and language disorder of autistic children. Chin J Clin Rehabil. 2005;9(28):112–3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent MedicineThe University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary HospitalHong Kong SARChina

Personalised recommendations