Joel Boudreaux was diagnosed with autism at age 5, at which time he was essentially nonverbal (he could sight-read words but did not have meaningful, communicative speech) and demonstrated self-help developmental delays—he couldn’t dress himself; ate finger foods rather than use utensils. He was also very active, frequently staying up late into the night.
Joel took part in a noncategorical preschool program that included students with varying exceptionalities, and he received speech therapy. He then attended a small, well-staffed class for autistic youngsters in a neighboring parish or county. He has been in that class for 3 years and is presently mainstreamed for 150 minutes per day with an aide.
Mr. and Mrs. Boudreaux are self-educated on the topic of autism, and Mrs. Boudreaux is a special education teacher. They made the decision to avoid the use of Ritalin. After viewing a videotape on B6 and magnesium from the Autism Research Institute (see below), they decided to pursue a nutritional approach. Initially, they used Super-Nu Thera, a blend of B6 and magnesium that has helped many youngsters with autism. Joel has significant chemical sensitivities and allergies and did not respond well to this blend, possibly because of an artificial flavoring in the mix. Convinced that the nutrients were important, they switched to a different source for the B6 and magnesium. (Editor: Super-Nu Thera is now available without dyes.)
Over the years, the Boudreaux family employed a variety of other treatments, each providing some benefit: nystatin therapy, auditory training sessions in Texas, chiropractic sessions in Atlanta, a rotation diet, and dimethylglycine (DMG) supplements.
Joel made major improvement in the area of language development and is now “very verbal.” This was considered a probable response to the auditory training sessions, and/or the DMG, which often assists speech. He has also made strides in reading comprehension after the auditory training. In spite of these improvements, he continued to be overly active.
After learning about CranioSacral therapy from the Autism Treatment Guide, by Elizabeth Gerlach, the family located a therapist, Scott Hollier, P.T., in their hometown. Mr. Boudreaux said, “This technique definitely calmed him down. At first it was hard for Scott, the therapist, because Joel wasn’t cooperating. Scott was very patient, and initially he treated myself or my wife so Joel could watch and see what it was like. After a few sessions, Joel was willing to participate. He had always disliked having anyone touch his head, which made haircuts and shampoos very difficult. After CranioSacral treatment began, not only would Joel allow us to touch his head, but he would ask to go to Scott’s office, where his head rested in Scott’s hands for long periods of time.
“Joel was usually so full of energy that he would never take a nap and could stay up until 2 a.m. He was a ball of energy! But to our surprise, during one of these sessions he actually fell asleep on the treatment table. For 6 months we went once a week and found it a helpful part of his integrated plan.”
Scott Hollier, physical therapist:
Joel’s family had read about CranioSacral therapy, and received a referral to me through the Upledger Institute. His initial evaluation was an eye-opener, as I’d never worked with an autistic youngster, and Joel was particularly loud and active; he also had facial grimaces. Joel did not want to be touched by anyone other than his mom or dad, and no treatment was given during the first visit. He was totally uncooperative.
It took two more sessions until we were able to get him to lie down on the table. He needed his mom to hold his hand, but I was then at least able to hold his head for the cranial treatments, which are quite gentle. Palpation revealed a very restricted cranial membrane plus slight overlapping of the cranial sutures.
Joel went from being uncooperative and fidgety to pleasant and quiet while on the treatment table. After a few months, we began using additional therapists to assist in the work, which was usually for 45- to 60-minute sessions. By this time, there was a clear softening of the sutures, membranes, and dural tube. By the fifth month, I felt we were able to achieve good releases through the CranioSacral system.
Dr. John Upledger has suggested that while results of CranioSacral therapy for autistic children do not appear to be permanent, the treatment can often be beneficial. We certainly found positive results when working with Joel.
Scott Hollier, P. T.; 2645 South Drive, Abbeville, LA 70510; CranioSacral therapy is a gentle, non-invasive manipulative technique. For information on CranioSacral Therapy contact the Upledger Institute.