Chinese Chan-Based Prospective Neuropsychological Intervention for Autistic Children

Reference work entry


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as a neurodevelopmental disorder, is to date incurable and has pervasive impact on cognitive, social, behavioral, and physical aspects of affected individuals. Recently, interest has been aroused in scientifically studying and clinically applying various complementary and alternative intervention methods for children with ASD. Mind-body intervention is one of the frequently adopted techniques. Given the fundamental assumption that the mind and the body are interconnected, the ultimate outcome of mind-body intervention is to enhance simultaneously the mental and the physical health conditions of an individual, which can potentially be applied as a cost-effective approach to treat children with ASD. This chapter will introduce a newly developed Chinese Chan-based mind-body intervention, namely, Dejian mind-body intervention (DMBI), which has been clinically applied for hundreds of years in China and empirically studied in the past few years. Both clinical and scientific evidence has supported the effects of DMBI in enhancing mood, cognitive functions, physical wellness, and neurophysiological state of normal population and patients with different brain disorders. Specifically for the children with ASD, results of randomized controlled trial and case studies, as well as some preliminary data, have suggested positive outcomes of DMBI on improving their executive control of emotion and behavior, memory and learning, immunological function, and physical health conditions and on normalizing their deviated brain activity level. More importantly, the encouraging findings were also applied to the more impaired ASD children with mental retardation and/or deficient verbal abilities. The potential treatment efficacy and clinical applicability of DMBI as a neuropsychological intervention for children with ASD will be discussed.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Autism Spectrum Disorder Anterior Cingulate Cortex Inhibitory Control Autistic Symptom 
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. Ashwood P, Murch S, Anthony A, et al. Intestinal lymphocyte populations in children with regressive autism: evidence for extensive mucosal immunopathology. J Clin Immunol. 2003;23:504–17.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benson H, Wilcher M, Greenberg B, et al. Academic performance among middle-school students after exposure to a relaxation response curriculum. J Res Dev Educ. 2000;33:156–65.Google Scholar
  3. Bent S, Bertoglio K, Ashwood P, et al. A pilot randomized controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids for autism spectrum disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 2011;41:545–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bent S, Bertoglio K, Hendren R. Omega-3 fatty acids for autistic spectrum disorder: a systematic review. J Autism Dev Disord. 2009;39:1145–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biegel G, Brown K, Shapiro S, et al. Mindfulness-based stress reduction for the treatment of adolescent psychiatric outpatients: a randomized clinical trial. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2009;77:855–66.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buie T, Campbell D, Fuchs G, et al. Evaluation, diagnosis, treatment of gastrointestinal disorders in individuals with ASDs: a consensus report. Pediatrics. 2010;125:S1–18.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burke C. Mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents: a preliminary review of current research in an emergent field. J Child Fam Stud. 2010;19:133–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chan A. The Shaolin Chanwuyi: a Chinese Chan Buddhism. Hong Kong: Chanwuyi Publishing House Limited; 2010.Google Scholar
  9. Chan A. Contemporary Application of Shaolin Medicine: Dejian Mind-Body Intervention. 5th ed. Hong Kong: Chanwuyi Publishing House Limited; 2013 [in Chinese].Google Scholar
  10. Chan A, Cheung M, Han Y, et al. Executive function deficits and neural discordance in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Clin Neurophysiol. 2009a;120:1107–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chan A, Cheung M, Sze S. Effect of mind/body training on children with behavioral and learning problems: a randomized controlled study. In: DeLuca B, editor. Mind-body and relaxation research focus. New York: Nova Science Publisher, Inc; 2008a. p. 165–93.Google Scholar
  12. Chan A, Cheung M, Sze S, et al. An herbal nasal drop enhanced frontal and anterior cingulate cortex activity. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011a;2011:8 pages.Google Scholar
  13. Chan A, Cheung M, Sze S, et al. Shaolin Dan Tian Breathing fosters relaxed and attentive mind: a randomized controlled neuroelectrophysiological study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011b;2011:11 pages.Google Scholar
  14. Chan A, Cheung M, Tsui W, et al. Dejian mind-body intervention on depressive mood of community-dwelling adults: a randomized controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011c;2011:8 pages.Google Scholar
  15. Chan A, Han Y, Leung W, et al. Abnormalities in the anterior cingulate cortex associated with attentional and inhibitory control deficits: a neurophysiological study on children with autism spectrum disorders. Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2011d;5:254–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chan A, Ho Y, Cheung M, et al. Association between mind-body and cardiovascular exercises and memory in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005;53:1754–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chan A, Sze S, Cheung M, et al. Dejian mind-body intervention improves the cognitive functions of a child with autism. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011e;2011:7 pages.Google Scholar
  18. Chan A, Sze S, Cheung M, et al. Dejian mind-body intervention improves the functioning of a patient with chronic epilepsy: a case report. Cases J. 2009b;2:7 pages.Google Scholar
  19. Chan A, Sze S, Han Y, et al. A Chan dietary intervention enhances executive functions and anterior cingulate activity in autism spectrum disorders: a randomized controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012a;2012:11 pages.Google Scholar
  20. Chan A, Sze S, Shi D. Traditional Chinese mind-body exercises improve self control ability of an adolescent with Asperger's disorder. J Psychol Chin Soc. 2008b;9:225–39.Google Scholar
  21. Chan A, Wong Q, Sze S, et al. A Chinese Chan-based mind-body intervention improves sleep on patients with depression: a randomized controlled trial. Sci World J. 2012b;2012:10 pagesGoogle Scholar
  22. Chan A, Wong Q, Sze S, et al. A Chinese Chan-based mind-body intervention for patients with depression. J Affect Disord. 2012c;142:283–289.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Chan A, Sze S, Siu N, et al. A Chinese mind-body exercise improves self-control of children with autism: a randomized controlled trial. PLoS ONE. In Press.Google Scholar
  24. Chan A, Sze S, Cheung M, et al. Changing lifestyle improves executive functions and associated neurophysiological activity in children with autism. Under Review.Google Scholar
  25. Chiang L, Ma W, Huang J, et al. Effect of relaxation-breathing training on anxiety and asthma signs/symptoms of children with moderate-to-severe asthma: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Nurs Stud. 2009;46:1061–70.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Courchesne E, Kathleen C, Solso S. Brain growth across the life span in autism: age-specific changes in anatomical pathology. Brain Res. 2011;1380:138–45.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Disner S, Beevers C, Haigh E, et al. Neural mechanisms of the cognitive model of depression. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2011;12:467–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Goin-Kochel R, Myers B, Mackintosh V. Parental reports on the use of treatments and therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders. Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2007;1:195–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Goldbeck L, Schmid K. Effect of autogenic relaxation training on children and adolescents with behavioral and emotional problems. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2003;42:1046–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Grimm S, Beck J, Schuepbach D, et al. Imbalance between left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in major depression is linked to negative emotional judgment: an fMRI study in severe major depressive disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 2008;63:369–76.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Han Y, Leung W, Wong C, et al. Lymphocyte subset alterations related to executive function deficits and repetitive stereotyped behavior in autism. Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2011;5:486–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hanson E, Kalish L, Bunce E, et al. Use of complementary and alternative medicine among children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 2007;37:628–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Haznedar M, Buchsbaum M, Metzger M, et al. Anterior cingulate gyrus volume and glucose metabolism in autistic disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 1997;154:1047–50.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Hofmann S, Sawyer A, Witt A, et al. The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: a meta-analytic review. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2010;78:169–83.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hyman S, Levy S. Dietary, complementary and alternative therapies. In: Reichow B, Doehring P, Cicchetti DV, editors. Evidence-based practices and treatments for children with autism. New York: Springer; 2011. p. 275–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Johnson C, Handen B, Zimmer M, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in young children with autism. J Dev Phys Disabil. 2010;22:1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jyonouchi H. Autism spectrum disorders and allergy: observation from a pediatric allergy/immunology clinic. Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2010;6:397–411.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kana R, Keller T, Minshew N, et al. Inhibitory control in high-functioning autism: decreased activation and underconnectivity in inhibition networks. Biol Psychiatry. 2007;62:198–206.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Korvatska E, Van de Water J, Anders T, et al. Genetic and immunologic considerations in autism. Neurobiol Dis. 2002;9:107125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lam L, Chau R, Wong B, et al. Interim follow-up of a randomized controlled trial comparing Chinese style mind body (Tai Chi) and stretching exercises on cognitive function in subjects at risk of progressive cognitive decline. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011;26:733–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lee M, Choi T, Shin B, et al. Acupuncture for children with autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. J Autism Dev Disord. 2012;42:1671–1683.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Leung D, Chan C, Tsang H, et al. Tai chi as an intervention to improve balance and reduce falls in older adults: a systematic and meta-analytical review. Altern Ther Health Med. 2011;17:40–8.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Levy S, Hyman S. Complementary and alternative medicine treatments for children with autism spectrum disorders. Child Adolesc Psychiatric Clin N Am. 2008;17:803–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Maciaszek J, Osinski W. The effects of Tai Chi on body balance in elderly people: a review of studies from the early 21st century. Am J Chin Med. 2010;38:219–29.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Matson J, Smith K. Current status of intensive behavioral interventions for young children with autism and PDD-NOS. Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2008;2:60–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Minshew N, Keller T. The nature of brain dysfunction in autism: functional brain imaging studies. Curr Opin Neurol. 2010;23:124–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mulloy A, Lang R, O’Reilly M, et al. Gluten-free and casein-free diets in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review. Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2010;4:328–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. National Research Council. Educating children with autism. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.Google Scholar
  49. Norris S, Currieri M. Performance enhancement training through neurofeedback. In: Evans J, Abarbanel A, editors. Introduction to quantitative EEG and neurofeedback. San Diego: Academic; 1999. p. 223–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pardo C, Vargas D, Zimmerman A. Immunity, neuroglia, and neuroinflammation in autism. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2005;17:485–95.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Piravej K, Tangtrongchitr P, Chandarasiri P, et al. Effects of Thai traditional massage on autistic children’s behavior. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15:1355–61.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Remington B, Hastings R, Kovshoff H, et al. Early intensive behavioral intervention: outcomes for children with autism and their parents after two years. Am J Ment Retard. 2007;112:418–38.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rogers C, Larkey L, Keller C. A review of clinical trials of tai chi and qigong in older adults. West J Nurs Res. 2009;31:245–79.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ros T, Moseley M, Bloom P, et al. Optimizing microsurgical skills with EEG neurofeedback. BMC Neurosci. 2009;10:10 pages.Google Scholar
  55. Sandler R, Finegold S, Bolte E, et al. Short-term benefit from oral vancomycin treatment of regressive-onset autism. J Child Neurol. 2000;15:429–35.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sandlund E, Norlander T. The effects of Tai Chi chuan relaxation and exercise on stress responses and well-being: an overview of research. Int J Stress Manag. 2000;7:139–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sarris J, Byrne G. A systematic review of insomnia and complementary medicine. Sleep Med Rev. 2011;15:99–106.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Saville R. Music therapy and autistic spectrum disorder. In: Watson T, editor. Music therapy with adults with learning disabilities. Routledge: New York; 2007. p. 33–46.Google Scholar
  59. Schmitz N, Rubia K, Daly E, et al. Neural correlates of executive functions in autistic spectrum disorders. Biol Psychiatry. 2006;59:7–16.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Silva L. Qigong massage for your child with autism: a home program from Chinese medicine. London: Singing Dragon; 2011.Google Scholar
  61. Simpson K, Keen D. Music interventions for children with autism: narrative review of the literature. J Autism Dev Disord. 2011;41:1507–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Srinivasan P. A review of dietary interventions in autism. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2009;21:237–47.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Stigler K, Sweeten T, Posey D, et al. Autism and immune factors: a comprehensive review. Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2009;3:840–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tang Y, Ma Y, Wang J, et al. Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2007;104:17152–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Thakkar K, Polli F, Joseph R, et al. Response monitoring, repetitive behaviour and anterior cingulate abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Brain. 2008;131:2464–78.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tsang H, Chan E, Cheung W. Effects of mindful and non-mindful exercises on people with depression: a systematic review. Br J Clin Psychol. 2008;47:303–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Vismara L, Rogers S. Behavioral treatments in autism spectrum disorder: what do we know? Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2010;6:447–68.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wahbeth H, Elsas S, Oken B. Mind-body interventions: applications in neurology. Neurology. 2008;70:2321–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wang C, Bannuru R, Ramel J, et al. Tai Chi on psychological well-being: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complem Altern M. 2010;10:23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Whelan J. Antibiotics: a possible treatment for regressive-onset autism. Drug Discov Today. 2000;5:487–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wisner B, Jones B, Gwin D. School-based meditation practices for adolescents: a resource for strengthening self-regulation, emotional coping, and self-esteem. Child Schools. 2010;32:150–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wong H, Smith R. Patterns of complementary and alternative therapy use in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord. 2006;36:901–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wong V. Use of complementary and alternative medicine in autism spectrum disorder: comparison of Chinese and Western culture (Part A). J Autism Dev Disord. 2009;39:454–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Yeh G, Wang C, Wayne P, et al. Tai Chi exercise for patients with cardiovascular conditions and risk factors: a systematic review. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2009;29:152–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Special Education & CounsellingThe Hong Kong Institute of EducationTai PoHong Kong
  3. 3.Institute of Textiles and ClothingThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloonHong Kong
  4. 4.Chanwuyi Research Center for Neuropsychological Well–BeingThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  5. 5.Henan Songshan Research Institute for ChanwuyiHenanChina

Personalised recommendations