Bradley was just 2 when his persistent communication problems landed him with an autism diagnosis.
His mother, Jayme Frear, made adjustments to Bradley’s diet and lifestyle. His uncle, a chiropractor, suggested the toddler try chiropractic treatments. That made a remarkable difference to the boy’s well-being, Frear says. Bradley is now 10 and doing well in a mainstream elementary-school class, she says: “Our son went from a child that didn’t communicate to what he is today.”
Bradley wasn’t the only one apparently transformed by the visits. His mother, who was a nurse at the time, became so convinced of their value that she altered her career path. She trained as a chiropractor herself and now occasionally sees autistic children who have musculoskeletal complaints at her Florida practice. But many chiropractors advertise that they can treat autism traits by manipulating the spine; some have even invented their own, unproven techniques, which they claim can “correct autism.”
Many parents are drawn to these treatments, which can cost more than $50 a session. By one 2015 estimate, approximately 88 percent of children on the spectrum in the United States have used complementary and alternative medicines. Among practitioner-based alternative-medicine options for children in the United States, chiropractic treatment is the most common, according to a 2008 “National Health Statistics” report.