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Autism originates from infancy; it is a permanent, stable and severe global developmental delay.  Autism is one kind of infant developmental disorder that suffers are putting themselves inside a comparatively immobile and cramped environment as well as isolating from other people.  The majority fall ill within their first three years of life and symptoms are usually found at 1½ to 2 years old with minority after 3 years old.  Some of the symptoms are various with each other and are easily mixed up with other diseases.  In 1943, LeoKanner used “Autism” to define this syndrome.  In developing countries, the percentage of people having autism reaches 1/1000 or above, and is greatly affecting the health of kids as well as bringing heavy burden to their family.

Reasons of autism
-      Inheritance
-      Congenital viral infection
-      Asphyxia
-      Factors affecting the central nervous system of kids
-      Sudden gene mutation
-       Imbalance of biochemical substances in the brain
-      Other uncertain factors
Main clinical manifestation of autism
Lack of external perception and social interactions are clinical features of autism. Kids live in their own world and it is the origin of autism.  The main clinical manifestation includes:

(1)  Delay social development.  Social knowledge defect is the core of   autism.  Symptoms sometimes occur in infancy. For example, reluctance to embrace and keep distance with their parents, lack of eye contacts is deemed to be the special performance of autistic kids.

(2)  Delay development in speech.  Language barrier of autism is an overall damage in terms of quality.

1.  Mutes or seldom speak

2.  Defects in language usage, inactive in communicating with others, reluctant to bring up ideas or to continue discuss with same topics, always talk to oneself but the contents are not understood by others; have their own small world and is proud of it, inattentive to the surrounding environment.  Some kids do not know the application of pronouns resulting in making meaningless sentences.


3.    Monotonous repeating wordings or echolalia


4.   Barrier in pitch and rhythm of speech


5.   Sometimes scream or speak out wordings that are not understood by others, which is named as “self-centered language”


6.    Non-verbal communication damage
(3)   Limited interest with monotonous and rigid behavior

1.   No change or abnormal reaction to the environment requirement


2.   abnormal interest and method, special likeness to certain objects or activities


3.   monotonous and repeated behavior and special motion posture


4.   special way of touch
(4)   Unusual perception

1.   poor response to light, voice and touch

2.   love certain special stimulus and have drastic reaction
(5)   Intelligence and cognitive defects (majority of autistic patients have this symptom)

1.   poor attention

2.   irrelevant attention to details:
-   too concentrate on unimportant parts and neglect the important parts;
-  some autism patients have stronger visual differentiation ability, can observe more detailed parts of the surrounding environment and neglect other activities;
-  more attentive to soft and small voices due to sensitive hearing ability;


3.   think in simple way
– can only understand concrete concept, difficult to understand conceptual ideas and composite different concepts.

4.   cannot understand the behind rationale of life
–  the world of autistic kids are usually made up with different and independent sections, they cannot link up various things into meaningful concepts and cannot understand the formation and their relationship.
–  they cannot learn the correlation of things from daily life resulting in cognitive difficulties


5.  difficult to finish work in a systematic and sequential way.
(6)   Other problems
-    one of the main symptoms is scatterbrained, empty and without content.
Autism Diagnosis
Autism is caused by physiological factors, not psychological factors.  Either MRI or PET cannot provide a scientific and accurate diagnosis.  Main diagnosis is made according to patient’s medical history and clinical manifestation.


Diagnosis Standard of Autistic Kids


-         DSM IV 4 th  edition: Autism

-         DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Autistic Disorder
-         DSM IV 4 th  edition: Asperger’s Syndrome
-         DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Asperger’s Disorder
-         ICD10
Different terms of diagnosis

-         Autism
-         Autistic Features
-         Pervasive Developmental Disorder PDD
Wrong concept in autism
Some people think that autism is mental retardation, mental illness, inverted personality, strange face, etc. but it is incorrect.

The probability of having autism is 4-5 times higher in male than female.
Treatment method
Currently there is no very effective treatment to autism.  However, children can overcome the barrier and difficulties of autism through education and training to meet the requirement of lessons and life adoption.
Tongue Acupuncture to patients with autism

In 1999 the Paediatric Neurology Conference of the Chinese Medicine Association, Virginia Wong, the world reputed paediatric neurologist and professor of The University of Hong Kong, has pointed out that:

1.  Use Tongue Acupuncture to cure various neurological diseases, such as autism, cerebral palsy, overall developmental delay, mental retardation, delay development in language, eye-hand coordination disorder, cortical blindness and functional disorder of nervous system, drooling, swallowing difficulty, spin muscular atrophy of respiratory problem.

2.   We assume that they have very close relationship in the pathway within tongue acupoints, corresponding meridian, peripheral nerve and certain nervous system.  We
hope that the combination of tongue acupuncture treatment, functional MRI scan as well as scientific rehabilitation assessment can provide a new medical clinical experience and evidence.

3.  We expect through the reaction of acupoints of tongue acupuncture, a distribution map (like motion, body feeling, language, memory, attention, balance, hearing, visual, etc) of the brain can be drawn out, so that we can bring the mysterious acupuncture technique to the scientific western medicine field.  The integration of Chinese and western medicine is an alternative medicine in child neurology rehabilitation.
       Throughout years of research, we have discovered new research achievement both in diagnosis and treatment in the world under the participation of Professor Virginia Wong by using the western medicine common research method “randomized double- blindness study”.

      According to statistics, after around 20 sessions of tongue acupuncture treatment, patients’ improvement can be observed in better eye-contact, concentration and higher intelligence level. Probability 85.5% of them have further improvements after 40 sessions.

      From clinical practices, helping patients with autism by tongue acupuncture is mainly in the following three aspects:

      First, to help patients to be better acceptability in learning, better in concentration, more interesting in outside world.  If they don’t have good receptive to knowledge, they never have an open-minded to improve themselves.

      Secondly, to help them improving in cognition, especially in different thinking methods.  After tongue acupuncture, they can understand easily more difficult and complicated ideas. Before treatment, kids can only understand to simple, monotonous and concrete concepts.

      Thirdly, to help improve their ability in self-expression.  Expression ability is an advanced level form of perceptual cognition, it can be understood as an evolution from materialization cognition to abstract thinking. In other words, patients have enhanced their capability in imagination and association, and finally express themselves properly through language.

(1)   Sublingual swelling is one of the obvious features of autism.  Prof. Sun is the first one in the world to discovered it.  

(see figure 1 & 2 below)

(2)   Sublingual swelling will be diminished when patients have been getting improvements. 

There is correlation between sublingual swelling and autism, it has material meaning to the cause and treatment of autism.  It is also a long term mission for our centre and autism (neurology) researcher to study its mechanism.
Tongue acupuncture is a breakthrough to autism treatment

1.     In the observation of tongue acupuncture treatment for autism to a group of 50 autistic kids by using randomized double-blind trial study, we have used the following assessments to measure the effectiveness before and after treatment.


a.       Griffths mental development scale
b.      Ritro-Freeman Real Life Scale
c.       Reynell Language Development Scale
d.      Symbolic Play Test
e.       Wee Functional Independence Measure for children

There is significant improvement in treatment group compared with trial group in WeeFIM assessment, other tests like understanding ability and perception ability, treatment group performed also better than trial group.


After having consecutive 40 sessions, it proved that tongue acupuncture could effectively improve the symptoms of autism.
(see European Journal of Paediatric Neurology)
2.    In view of 122 autistic kids’ clinical observations, 73.8% of them have improvement after taking 20 sessions of tongue acupuncture, while 84.7% have improvement after taking 40 sessions.

3.   Use FDG PET scan to monitor the effectiveness of tongue acupuncture treatment in autism.  The tester’s cerebral cortex SMV average maximum absorption rate increases 22.3% after having tongue acupuncture.  Others only have 1.2%-1.5% increment.
(see The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, USA)
The Hong Kong Jockey Club fMRI Engineering Centre has carried out a randomized double-blind cohort study together with Paediatric neurology expert, Professor Virginia Wong, The University of Hong Kong , which has proved the effectiveness of the tongue acupuncture treatment.

There were 21 kids participated in the study with age range of 3-16 years old.  12 were in treatment group and 9 were in trial group.  Clinical measuring chart and P.E.T. scan were used as assessment tools to study the results before and after the tongue acupuncture treatment.  The standard of PET is: by using cerebral glucose metabolism average maximum absorption and average absorption rate for comparison If there were 10% or above increment, it was deemed to have significant change.  5 out of 12 kids (i.e. 42%) in the treatment group have improvement in both maximum and average absorption rate while there is no change in trial group, the deviation is significant in statistics (P = 0.0023)
Adverse and side effect of  Tongue Acupuncture
      Tongue Acupuncture is a natural treatment that is very safe. Most people including little children can make it with ease and even will not feel pain.   Chances for pain, bleeding or undesirable edema are slim.  In case they occurred, there is no need to care especially as the affected part will get well themselves in a few days later, which will not affect patients’  eating and drinking.

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