Information on Autism therapies for Autism and Aspergers syndreome - common Autism Spectrum Disorders


Craniosacral therapy (also called cranial osteopathy, osteopathy in the cranial field or cranial therapy) is a method of alternative medicine involving very gentle manipulation, particularly of the head. It is used by craniosacral therapists or osteopaths who claim to assess and enhance the functioning of the patient by accessing their primary respiratory mechanism, which consists of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid of the central nervous system.


Craniosacral treatment

Typically craniosacral treatment is carried out on a fully-clothed patient in a supine position. The therapist places their hands lightly on the patient’s body, tuning in to the patient by ‘listening’ with their hands or, in Sutherland’s words, “with thinking fingers”. Therapeutic contact between the patient and therapist may involve entrainment between patient and practitioner.


Criticisms of Craniosacral therapy

Proponents claim that measurements of craniosacral motion are a function of the cardiovascular system, and that by working with the body, including the skull they can remove restrictions in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, relieving stress, decreasing pain, and enhancing overall health. It is claimed that improving the flow and balance of the supply of this fluid to the brain assists in information processing and other Autism-associated challenges.


Opponents claim that the therapy has been shown to be without scientific basis, and to date there have been no adequate evaluative studies of this approach (Howlin, 1997). Sceptics existing both inside and outside the osteopathic profession level the following criticisms at craniosacral therapy:

Lack of evidence for the existence of “cranial bone movement”

The scientific evidence for cranial bone movement is insufficient to support the theories claimed by craniosacral practitioners. Scientific research supports the theory that the cranial bones fuse during adolescence, making movement impossible. However, this research only points to fusion of the base of the skull which is not contested in craniosacral therapy and does not address movement in the superior plates. As such, this research plays no part in disproving the type of cranial bone movement as postulated by craniosacral therapy.


Lack of evidence for the existence of “cranial rhythm”

While evidence exists for cerebrospinal fluid pulsation, one study states it is caused by the functioning of the cardiovascular system and not by the workings of the craniosacral system.


Lack of evidence linking “cranial rhythm” to disease

No research to date has supported the link between the “cranial rhythm” and general health.


Lack of evidence “cranial rhythm” is detectable by practitioners

Operator inter reliability has been very poor in the studies that have been done. Five studies showed an operator inter reliability of zero. The one study showing some operator inter reliability has been criticized as deeply flawed in a report to the British Columbia Office of Health Technology Assessment.

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There is scepticism surrounding the use of cranio sacral therapy as an intervention for Asperger's syndrome, Autism and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders