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Research Article  |   July 2009
Qigong Massage Treatment for Sensory and Self-Regulation Problems in Young Children With Autism: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Author Affiliations
  • Louisa M. T. Silva, MD, MPH, is Visiting Professor, Teaching Research Institute, Western Oregon University, PO Box 688, Salem, OR 97308; lmtsilvaqigong@comcast.net
  • Mark Schalock, BS, is Associate Research Professor, Teaching Research Institute, Western Oregon University, Salem
  • Robert Ayres, PhD, is Research Professor, Teaching Research Institute, Western Oregon University, Salem
  • Carol Bunse, MA, is Assistant Research Professor, Teaching Research Institute, Western Oregon University, Salem
  • Sarojini Budden, MD, FRCP (C), FAAP, is Medical Director, Pediatric Development Program, Legacy Emmanuel Children's Hospital, Portland, OR
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Complementary/Alternative Approaches / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / School-Based Practice / Children and Youth
Research Article   |   July 2009
Qigong Massage Treatment for Sensory and Self-Regulation Problems in Young Children With Autism: A Randomized Controlled Trial
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2009, Vol. 63, 423-432. doi:10.5014/ajot.63.4.423
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2009, Vol. 63, 423-432. doi:10.5014/ajot.63.4.423
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.