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Integrated care for autism and its importance: Ayurveda for Autism

Integrated care for autism and its importance: Ayurveda for Autism

Autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder presents with impairments in language, communication, cognition, emotional expression & socialisation and seemingly meaningless repetitive behaviours. Autism is understood today as a spectrum disorder, and may differ from child to child. Some children may showcase mild symptoms, while others might display severe Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms and signs.

Treatment for a person with autism spectrum typically depends on their needs. While Autism cannot be cured, it can be managed and treated suitably so that increases the quality of life and functional independence.

As technology advances, the focus has slowly and surely shifted to modern medicine not just in diagnostics, but also for treatment. However, bearing that in mind, there continues to be a vast body of untapped knowledge in ancient medical traditions, which can be harnessed for both care and cure. In our pursuit of technologically advanced medical intervention, we may have neglected this ancient medical tradition and the wealth of knowledge it harbours.

Ayurveda for Autism:

Ayurveda is said to be one of the oldest systems of medicine. In Ayurveda, Autism is considered an imbalance of the Vata dosha, one of the three bodily humours that accounts for several neurological and psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric disorders fall under the Ayurvedic classification of Unmada. The very definition of Unmada incorporates a cluster of inappropriate actions exhibited by the individual as a result of a distortion of the normal mind, intellect, conscious knowledge, memory, desire, manner and behaviour.

Ayurveda is based on the principle that an individual’s mind is afflicted due to the following factors: 

  • Poor eating habits
  • Lowered health condition
  • Co-morbid health conditions
  • High impact of the innate Gunas of Rajas and Tamas (inherent personality traits) which could lead to higher anger levels, anxiety, fear or deep attachments to persons or objects that maintain tranquillity of mind.

These imbalances of the doshas are diagnosed in the following ways:

  • Poor digestion and absorption due to the vitiation of digestive fire such as enzymes, acids and hormones, known as Agni-dushti
  • Difficulty in absorption and its effects like increased appetite, flatulence, abdominal bloating, diarrhoea and constipation, known as Grahani-dosham
  • Obstruction to the lymphatic system and other channels, Srota-vaigunyam
  • Irregular bowel functions such as constipation, bloating, Mala-sanchayam
  • Intellectual and emotional issues, Manovahasroto-vaigunyam
  • Developmental delays and distortions, Poshana-viagunyam

Taking these factors into consideration, Ayurveda emphasises on the need to maintain a proper diet as a useful measure in the management of any disorder. There are a number of herbal medications taken internally and some oils and concoctions for external uses which cater to the physical, mental and spiritual domains of the body. These procedure-based therapies promote the development of the brain and manage the behavioural problems found in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Integrated therapy essentially prescribes external Ayurvedic massages and therapies such as:

  • Sarvanga Abhyanga - the full-body stimulation massage
  • Shiro Pichu - overhead application of specific oils
  • Swedanam - medicated fomentation
  • Takradhara - pouring medicated buttermilk over head
  • Patra Pinda Sweda - Fomentation with leaves or churna
  • Shirodhara - oil dripping therapy
  • Shiroabhyanga - Head stimulation massage

These massages and therapies require constant follow-ups until the next course of intensive therapy begins.

The clinical outcome of Ayurvedic integrated therapy:

  • People with autism spectrum, with frequent massages and therapies, can face an improvement in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • With persistent therapies and follow-ups, behavioural modification is accomplished.
  • Aiming to calm the person down, these therapies ensure that the person’s quality of sleep is improved.
  • Taking care externally and internally, the person’s body eliminates pathogens and toxins that otherwise may cause systemic discomfort
  • A better diet and integrated care ensure improvements in the absorption of vital nutrients, too.

Ayurvedic massages, yoga sessions, and other integrative therapies reinforce the wellness of the person through their general and specific actions. With treatment continuing, the person with autism spectrum is motivated to participate willingly in the path to recovery and tranquillity.

Treatment using modern methods and medicines includes speech therapy, occupational therapy, behaviour training, dietary modifications and psychotherapy sessions. In fact, integrated education is also encouraged, wherein children in the early stages of Autism are taught differently. These approaches help the parents or caregivers identify early signs of autism spectrum in order to improve the child’s cognitive,  language and social development. At Buddhi, our integrative care program is for children with various neurodevelopmental conditions, adults with a plethora of brain injuries and elders with disorders of brain degeneration. Visit the Buddhi Clinic and explore complete brain and mind care, the Buddhi way.  

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