Chiropractic care and ADHD or ADD: Quick Tip

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Chiropractic

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) may be the most reported childhood behavioral issue, impacting between three percent and seven percent of the children in American. The diagnostic criteria are purely observationaland the diagnosis is obtained by subjective assessments. You will find there are no tests to ensure ADHA in a specific child.

The most frequent treatment with this is Methylphenidate (Ritalin) a Class II managed and addictive compound. The long-term aftereffects of this drug on children is as yet as yet not known, nevertheless the side-effects such as addiction are now recognized.

Conservative treatment of ADHD is possible. Vitamin deficiencies are common in ADD or ADHD. Supplementation with B vitamin complex, and the omega-6 and omega-3 efas show promising results. A holistic and integrative management system includes healthy change, supplementation, washing, and treatment of environmental toxic substances and toxic products and services from the home.

A 2010 study was conducted to analyze the results of chiropractic treatment of ADHA. in the research all patients were men, ranging in age from nine to 13 years. The scientists used a 15-item parent and teacher ADHD survey and the responses to chiropractic care were checked. In this study patients improved. ADHD symptoms were found to improve under chiropractic care. These signs include inattentiveness, and hyperactivity, impulsive actions, in addition to behavioral, social, or emotional difficulties. Evidence is given by this study on the potency of chiropractic in the treating kids with ADHD.

What might this mean for your child? If you’re not including a chiropractor within your child’s health team you’ll not be getting the best results for your child. Everyone must have their back checked sometimes but also for these children and children with autism it is even more important.

By:Dr. Paul R. Mahler Jr. DC

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Autistic spectrum disorders in children

Disorders related to the autistic spectrum are associated with changes in the physical, emotional, and chemical state of the patient. Autistic spectrum disorders in children and adults may have multiple causes. In this post I would like to address several questions about autistic spectrum disorders. Are autistic spectrum disorders a chiropractic condition? How can chiropractic help autistic spectrum disorders? Often chiropractic care is seen as a conservative treatment for musculoskeletal or neurological conditions. As we will see that is part of the reason the chiropractic may help with spectrum disorders.


First do you know the symptoms of spectrum disorders. Children that are on the spectrum are experiencing neural-behavioral disorder. Some of the common diagnoses include ADD, ADHD, autism, Tourette’s syndrome, OCD, ODD, pervasive developmental delay, or any sub-class of developmental delay which can be modifying the emotional, motor or behavioral development. Parents often describe the typically signs of this group of children as incapable of concentrating, hyperactive, poor sleeping patterns, inability to attend and pay attention at school or at home. The parents often must repeat phrases or commands, or the child may often use phrases like huh or what. The parents may report that the child has trouble with fine motor skills like handwriting, cutting with scissors or even buttoning buttons. This is often due to apraxia, or dyspraxia. Many times, these children will use both hand for many tasks and may be referred to as ambidextrous. So, the parents might struggle to determine whether a child id left or right-handed. They might comment that their child writes using their left-hand and eats with their right hand. These children will sometimes have tremors, they will often find it difficult to tie their shoes or do fine manipulative things make use of their hands. Parents also often report that the child has difficulty with gross motor skills and may fall allot or have trouble throwing or catching.  The patients who respond best to chiropractic care are between the ages 6 to 16 but children and adults can usually be treated at ages young and old. The earlier chiropractors start the greater the number of developmental windows that may be opened for the child.

One of the most important concepts when addressing Autistic Spectrum Disorders in kids is to realize they are also behavioral disorders. Due to different symptoms and the severity of the symptoms the child can lead to very different differential diagnoses. To help complicate the problem, an autistic child who displays ADHD behaviors, could also exhibit OCD behaviors, Tourette’s or Asperger’s behaviors simultaneously. That’s the reason these conditions are called spectrum disorders, they are co-morbid and overlapping syndromes. No matter if it’s Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD), Add and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD,) Excessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Pervasive Development Delay (PDD), Tourette’s Syndrome, or autism, each are caused by an imbalance in the neurological and sensory systems. This imbalance makes it impossible for the child to block certain sensory inputs and as a result a disconnect is created. The ability of the brain to process certain sensory input becomes impaired.  That is where chiropractic comes in when chiropractors adjust the spine they are directly affecting the nervous system, in most case the brain can be retrained to process sensory input in a different or improved way, this is the same basic premise behind brain gym but chiropractors have been doing this for decades.

A chiropractic neurologist Dr. Robert J. Melillo, has spent the last half of a 17-year career studying and treating these imbalances.  Dr. Melillo is international known and renown. He has determined that some of the cause may be due to an absence of stimulation as well as musculoskeletal imbalance in the body. The imbalances resulted in brain emphasizing and using the more active side while ignoring the under-stimulated hemisphere of the brain. It is important to treat the central nervous system by addressing imbalances in the spine. At the same time the sensory systems must also be addressed  Sensory processing disorders are often caused by the sensory systems that were paused at some point in development (start to see the article on sensory processing disorders) or developmental delays. These delays must be addressed and improved to the best of the child’s ability to maximize the child’s potential.

The art and science of Chiropractic Neurology is the diagnostic examination, where chiropractors use current concepts in neurology, neurophysiology and neuroscience to first perform very detailed history concerning the emotional and cognitive abilities of the patient. The history provides clues about which areas of their brain are functioning well, and which areas under or over performing.

Most youngsters treated for behavioral problems are very intelligent. The truth is, the majority are very smart and have many gifts that allow them to adapt and function well in society. It is the goal of chiropractic to support these gifts while treating any perceived deficits that cause the child difficulties. Common symptoms include the inability to focus, hyperactivity, inattentiveness, or extremely poor organization skills, among numerous other symptoms. It is very important start early to enhance the child’s quality of life at the earliest opportunity.

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By: Paul R. Mahler DC
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Chiropractic: Sensory Processing Disorders in Children (SPD)


Often it is asked, how can chiropractic help my special needs child? Chiropractic Kids and chiropracticdirectly influences the functioning of the nervous system, and it is this connection that often helps children with special needs.The central nervous system acts as the master control system for the entire body, but this is a simplistic and basic answer. Since the central nervous system connects the brain to the rest of the body it is partially responsible for the way we interpret the world and what information we take in. We will see why this is so important later in the article. Due to recent developments in the fields of chiropractic and chiropractic neurology are leading to better explanations to this link and this is creating better implement it in a clinical stetting. With modern instrumentation and research techniques there is new information coming out on a regular basis.

What is this new information? First we must understand Sensory Processing Disorders or SPD. What are Sensory Processing Disorders? Sensory Processing Disorders are “a neurodevelopmental disorder resulting from the brain’s inability to integrate everyday sensory information revived from the five senses: touch, vision, sound, smell and taste.” (Buerger, Monika DC, Pathways, Issue 19, pg 19) SPD is also includes the two lesser known senses, the vestibular and proprioception systems. The vestibular system located in the lower part of the brain called the cerebellum and the upper spinal-cord called the cervical spine and is the master regulator of all incoming sensory information ( Buerger, Monika DC, Pathways, Issue 19, pg 19). It is at this point that we start to see the development of the link between chiropractic care and SPD and it is through these links that individualized treatment can be developed thorough testing of all of these sensory systems. Once the sensory systems involved determined they can then be addressed directly and indirectly.

Sensory deficient are defined as ether hypo or hyper sensitive. Children who are hypersensitive are bombarded by sensory information and will often appear withdrawn from society because the constant bombardment of sensory input makes their brains uncomfortable (Buerger, Monika DC, Pathways, Issue 19, pg 19). This is due to the fact that the brain is unable to filter out much of the incoming information from that set of senses. The Brain will usually only let a fraction of the sensory information enter the conscious mind while the rest of the input is processed by the subconscious mind or disregarded all together. A child who is hyposensitive will seek out sensory experiences to stimulate their brains due to lack of sensory input (Buerger, Monika DC, Pathways, Issue 19, pg 19). There are many other symptoms depending on which sensory pathways are involved and to which degree but this can be sorted out using a  complete history and a thorough examination. After the information from the exam and history is obtained it is possible to implement a treatment protocol which customized to that child’s needs.

Sensory Processing Disorders is often misdiagnosed in children as ADD, ADHD, and other neuro-developmental disorders (Buerger, Monika DC, Pathways, Issue 19, pg 19). To complicate maters Sensory Processing Disorders can also co-exist with many of these conditions including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, and Traumatic Brain Injury as well as others and can persist if untreated into adult hood and follow the child for the rest of there lives. The medical approach is to diagnose these children with conditions such as ADHD and then prescribe psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin (Buerger, Monika DC, Pathways, winter 2005, pg 3). It is important that parents educate themselves on the side effects of these medications and realize that if the child is misdiagnosed many of these medications may have the opposite effect.

So how is the chiropractic approach different? “In 2004, Dr. Melillo published a textbook titled Neuro-behavioral Disorders of Childhood – An Evolutionary Perspective, which describes what he believes to be the primary neuro-physiologic mechanism that produces many of the most common neuro-behavioral disorders. Applying this neuro-physiologic mechanism to chiropractic, he focuses on three main areas: sensory/motor systems, biomechanical/nutritional, and neuropsychological, with the main concept revolving around hemispheric balance.” (Claudia Anrig, DC. From the chiropractic perspective postural imbalances caused by vertebral misalignment and nervous system involvement (subluxations) are sought out and treated. This treatment removes the effect on the neurological system from a structural stand point allowing for improved neurological function. This is accomplished trough standard chiropractic modes of treatment. The nervous system if further address through addressing the sensory deficiency and directly retraining these systems to mature and function correctly. Finally some of the nutritional components are considered such as hypo or hyper glycemia and the effects that sugar and other allergens may have on the system.

This is by no means a complete understanding of how chiropractic may affect sensory processing disorders and the treatments are often very individualized for each set of circumstances. After reading this article it should start to become obvious way a chiropractor might be a great addition to the team used to treat and improve the quality of life for your child. This is a brief understanding of how the chiropractic field can bring a novel new approach to children with SPD as well as other nuro-sensory disorders such as ADD, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

By: Paul R. Mahler Jr. DC

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