Craniosacral Therapy & Autism Recovery

What is Craniosacral Therapy?

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a wonderful modality to add to the treatment protocol of a child with autism.  Craniosacral therapy is a form of bodywork that was created by an osteopathic physician, Dr. John Upledger, however the roots of the CST date back to the late 1800’s with Dr. Sutherland.

Dr. Upledger researched the movement of the cranial bones, especially at the suture lines where the temporal and parietal bones meet.  He believed that there is a rhythmic motion of the cranial bones, which are connected to the sacrum (tailbone area).  He researched how this craniosacral system has a flow system or Primary Respiratory Mechanism (RPM) that affects the rest of the body if it is blocked or out of alignment.  The theory behind RPM is that the central nervous system has it’s own respiratory system, per se, with fluctuation of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), mobility of the intracranial and intraspinal dural tissues, mobility of the cranial bones and involuntary motion of the sacrum.

Dr. Upledger actually studied hospitalized autistic with treatment of CST and found that regular treatment showed a reduction of self-injurious behaviors (SIBS).  He performed a blind comparison of his research to earlier studies performed by Dr. Rimland, and found that the more classic and severe the autism diagnosis, the restriction was noted in the meningeal tissue (Upledger, J.E., 1978).

How Does Craniosacral Therapy Work?

CST stimulates healing by applying gentle pressure to the base of the skull and the sacral area to release knotted up areas in the tissues.  A CST practitioner is able to tune into the various areas of blockages, tensions, vibrations and natural rhythms of the client’s body.  Releasing these areas by a skilled practitioner allows for the body’s innate ability to heal itself and restore the natural rhythmic flow of the central nervous system and other body systems.

What Conditions Can CranioSacral Therapy Be Used For?

CST can be used or a host of issues in both children and adults

  • Autism
  • Migraines
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity
  • Latching/Feeding issues
  • Birth trauma/Head Trauma
  • Torticollis
  • TMJ
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • PTSD
  • Fibromyalgia

More conditions are listed on, please check them out.

Areas Improved by Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy has been used as alternative treatment of in the ASD population for thirty years, but research on it’s effectiveness has been lacking.  A recent research survey, from 2017,  listed some of the main benefits that CST practitioners and parents noted from children who receive craniosacral therapy.

  • Decreased anxiety
  • Improved emotional stability
  • Improved social changers
  • Improved sensory integration
  • Improved neurologic function
  • Improved language/cognitive changes

How to Find a Craniosacral Practitioner

One of the best ways to find a CST practitioner is to check out either the Upledger Institute or the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners.

You can also ask within your circle of fellow ASD warrior parents who is a good CST practitioner in your area.  These warrior parents know who is the go to person in your area.  Craniosacral therapy may also be a great treatment option for the warrior parents too!

More Information

There is nothing like being present during a CST session with your child, when you know how your child was behaving before the session, and watching the practitioner be able to become in-tune with your child and initiate some releases.  The transformation is amazing and you’ll want to take your CST practitioner home with you!.

For more information about the benefits of craniosacral therapy check out the most recent episode from the Holistic Health Hour with Craniosacral practitioner Todd Stelik.




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