Pediatric Chiropractic for Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and Developmental Delays

by Warren Bruhl, DC, DICCP

Pediatric Chiropractic for Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and Developmental Delays“Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” -Hippocrates, 460-377 BC

You might visit a chiropractor for problems as diverse as backache, ear infections, or learning disorders.

Regardless of your symptoms, my objective as a chiropractor is always to correct nerve interference, safely and effectively.

Another term to describe nerve interference is vertebral subluxation.

This is a complex of physiological factors frequently seen in children with developmental delays.

The nervous system is sensitive to the movement and position of the spine.

Vertebral subluxation can either increase or decrease the rate at which nerve messages travel from brain to body and back again.

The result is that the child’s brain cannot communicate with his body.

This miscommunication is comparable to what happens when you use a walkie-talkie with the headsets on different channels.

What does this complex mean for the child with developmental delays?

If he has vertebral subluxation, he will never be able to achieve his optimal potential.

Indeed, every child with developmental issues whom I have treated has exhibited some form of subluxation in the spine.

Causes and Components of Vertebral Subluxation


Trauma causes abnormal position and motion of the bones of the spine:

  • A cramped position in utero
  • A difficult pregnancy or childbirth, including use of forceps or breech presentation
  • Accidents like falling off a swing or slipping on pavement
  • Sports injuries, such as too many “headers” in soccer
  • Incorrect posture at the computer

All these conditions can block normal nutrient delivery to the joints.

Furthermore, inflammation in the tissues surrounding the spine adds to the disruption of nerve function and intensifies a spinal degenerative process.


Exposure to food additives, drugs, environmental pollutants and other toxins contribute to activity in the nervous system that damages the spine.


Unresolved emotions such as depression, anger, or fear related to conflict at home, school, or on the playground.

Negative emotions cause the release of stress hormones that are just as harmful as chemicals. 

Chiropractic Training

Chiropractic is the only profession that deals directly with the removal of nerve interference caused by vertebral subluxation.

Chiropractic for children is tailored specifically to each child’s spine.

Compared to medical care of children, chiropractic is among the safest treatments in the health care sciences today.

Chiropractors are well educated.

They undergo rigorous training: two to four years of undergraduate work with basic sciences, followed by four years of chiropractic school, including over 4,400 hours of anatomy, physiology, pathology, chemistry, nutrition, and neurology.

A diplomate in Chiropractic Pediatrics requires another three years of postgraduate study and yearly recertification.

Chiropractic for Autism and Other Developmental Delays

After a complete examination of a child, I make “adjustments” to the spine, which restore balance and integrity to the nervous system.

Afterwards, parents report changes in health and vitality.

Eyes become clear; movements become smoother; concentration improves.

Immune system function increases along with improved visceral function.

I believe that when the nervous system is functioning at its best, the body has an innate ability to heal itself.

For this reason, a chiropractor offers an alternative to drugs.

For attention problems and hyperactivity, chiropractic treatment can provide alleviation of symptoms without undue side effects and possible psychological dependence on drugs such as Ritalin.

For earaches, many medical doctors frequently prescribe antibiotics.

However, if a baby is teething or has a cold, tiny muscles in the back of the throat connected to the ear tubes can become blocked and cause pain.

This pain is often misdiagnosed as an ear infection.

But earaches are more often caused by problems with drainage than by bacteria.

If this blockage is related to subluxation in the upper spine, chiropractic adjustment can correct it, even in newborns, thereby avoiding the need for antibiotics.

Most chiropractors believe that the permanent immunity gained from natural recovery from childhood diseases such as chicken pox outweighs the artificial, temporary immunity provided by artificial means.

Data also suggest that the diseases of childhood are necessary for the appropriate development, maturation and function of the individual immune and nervous systems.


International Chiropractors Association (ICA) Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics, (703) 528-5000, Referrals to practitioners.

Oklahaven Children’s Chiropractic Center. A non-profit, drug-free educational and treatment facility for sick and disabled children. Located in Oklahoma City, the center has operated for 35 years solely through private donations.

Dr. Warren Bruhl has a family practice in Glencoe, IL, where 35% of his practice is with children, some of whom have developmental issues. You may reach him at (847) 835-4700 or <[email protected]>