1357 Kapiolani Blvd Suite 1007, Honolulu, HI 96814
1357 Kapiolani Blvd Suite 1007, Honolulu, HI 96814

Autism, CSF Flow, and the Upper Cervical Chiropractor in Honolulu

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 36 children in the United States today

Social Interaction Symptoms of Autism

  • Eye contact – Autism sufferers often struggle to make eye contact with others consistently.
  • Sharing – may have difficulty sharing.
  • Limited conversation ability
  • Unresponsive – one may have a hard time getting their attention even when calling their name.
  • Limited interests
  • Unusual speech patterns – May range from being completely monotone to sounding very rhythmic and sing-song like.
  • Conflicting non-verbal communication – Expressions may not match the topic of conversation.
  • Misunderstandings – Many autistic patients struggle with empathy which often leads to disagreements or sudden outbursts.


The number of children who are being diagnosed with autism or being “on the spectrum” has been increasing drastically. There is so much information out there for parents to sort through and keep track of, it can be very overwhelming.

With so many questions, could we be getting closer to much needed answers?  I believe we are, and this could lead to some much needed help for children on the spectrum and their families. 

new study out of UNC School of Medicine has just been published in Biologic Psychiatry.

The authors Joseph Piven, MD and Mark Shen, PHD have shown a correlation between a significant increase in the amount of cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) in the skull at the age of 6 months and 12 months, and a diagnosis of autism at the age of 2. (1)

The article states: 

“Normally, autism is diagnosed when the child is two or three years old and beginning to show behavioral symptoms; there are currently no early biological markers,” said David G. Amaral, director of research at the UC Davis MIND Institute. “That there’s an alteration in the distribution of cerebrospinal fluid that we can see on MRIs as early as six months, is a major finding.”

This IS a major finding! In 2013, Shen was a co-author of another study (1) showing similar findings. This new study was with a much larger group of babies, and was consistent in the outcome. This article states:

“The researchers found that elevated CSF in the brain predicted with nearly 70 percent accuracy which babies would later be diagnosed with autism.”

We know that the Upper Cervical Complex has a direct effect on proper flow/movement of CSF flow. The long-term, systemic effects of CSF obstruction is an important factor for the health of a person, regardless of age. This can result in many different secondary conditions such as Migraines, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Vertigo and others. Ho’ola Chiropractic is the only facility in Honolulu to utilize specific techniques that address the assessment and correction of the Atlas Displacement Complex and the Cranio-Cervical Junction.

The full article referred to above can be found here:   http://neurosciencenews.com/autism-cerebrospinal-fluid-6201
The Study was funded by the National Institute of Health, Autism Speaks, and the Simons Foundation.


How do we Get Misaligned?

Misalignments in the Upper Cervical Spine can happen in many different ways. The upper neck of a child may become misaligned initially from the birthing process. Every birth is different and some babies have a harder time than others during delivery. Even a normal vaginal birth can place stress or strain upon the infant’s spine or cranium. If forceps, vacuum extraction, or a c-section was performed, the stress to the child’s spine may be even greater. Later in life, a child may suffer from a misalignment to their Upper Cervical spine from many different mechanisms including but not limited to, accidents while learning how to walk or ride a bike, playing on the playground, and/or sports injuries.

Age and Upper Cervical Chiropractor?

Many patients ask, “is my daughter/son too young to come in?” The answer is that no one is too young to see a specific upper cervical chiropractor. We at Ho’ola Chiropractic utilize different upper cervical techniques that are safe for all ages. Perhaps it is most important to have a child’s alignment checked after birth by an upper cervical chiropractor since the first trauma one will face is during the birthing process.  The importance of checking for structural shifts in the upper cervical spine, and the importance of very precise correction is vital not only for those who are already suffering from secondary conditions, but as a prevention from the development of more serious problems down the road. 


Chiropractic care for Autism, can it help?

The short answer to this is yes, chiropractic care can help those with Autism (or anyone on the spectrum for that matter). Here is a testimonial of a father and his daughter diagnosed with Autism, from our Upper Cervical Chiropractic office in Honolulu. (you can find this review and many others on google)


“Although I don’t offer many reviews, I feel this is my responsibility as a father. My daughter is 3 years old, and was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She was born approx 6 months before COVID hit internationally and was isolated as the only daughter, with new parents, and little understanding of how to keep her safe.

Once we started noticing some delays in her development, her pediatrician recommended early intervention. But after years on a waiting list, she was seen and diagnosed. We weren’t sure how to respond, so my wife and I sought ways we could help our daughter holistically.

That’s when we found Dr. Luke. Aside from his convictions of kindness and Aloha, we started to see results almost immediately after her first adjustment. She went from minor phrases and numbers to almost 20 new words in approximately 3 weeks. Although I am not completely in tune with the science of it all, I am aware of the results. Her comprehension is noticeable, her words are clearer, her eye contact is direct, she responds to her name, shorter and less frequent tantrums, etc.

For anyone who might have children who are autistic or even slightly on the spectrum, I invite you to see Dr. Luke. What he is doing is not common and not enough people are aware or even think there is help for parents and their children. I highly recommend this man. He has shown great care for my child and she is so excited for every session. (She even tries to adjust her stuffed animals lol)”


If you or a loved one have Autism or are on the Spectrum and are looking for a very effective and natural approach, give us a call to see how we can help at (808) 772-8284.





(1) Mark D. Shen, Sun Hyung Kim, Robert C. McKinstry, Hongbin Gu, Heather C. Hazlett, Christine W. Nordahl, Robert E. Emerson, Dennis Shaw, Jed T. Elison, Meghan R. Swanson, Vladimir S. Fonov, Guido Gerig, Stephen R. Dager, Kelly N. Botteron, Sarah Paterson, Robert T. Schultz, Alan C. Evans, Annette M. Estes, Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, Martin A. Styner, David G. Amaral, Joseph Piven. Increased Extra-axial Cerebrospinal Fluid in High-Risk Infants who Later Develop Autism. Biological Psychiatry, 2017; 

(2) “Early brain enlargement and elevated extra-axial fluid in infants who develop autism spectrum disorder”

Mark D. Shen,1 Christine W. Nordahl,1 Gregory S. Young,1 Sandra L. Wootton-Gorges,2 Aaron Lee,1 Sarah E. Liston,1 Kayla R. Harrington,1 Sally Ozonoff1 and David G. Amaral   Brain: Journal of Neurology  2013: 136; 2825–2835 

(3) Pomschar A, Koerte I, Lee S, Laubender RP, Straube A, et al. (2013) MRI Evidence for Altered Venous Drainage and Intracranial Compliance in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. PLoS ONE 8(2): e55447.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055447

(4)P. Zamboni, R. Galeotti, E. Menegatti et al., “Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency in patients with multiple sclerosis,” 

Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, vol. 80,no. 4, pp. 392–399, 2009.

(5) I. K. Koerte, C. J. Schankin, S. Immler et al., “Altered cerebrovenous drainage in patients with migraine as assessed by phasecontrastmagnetic resonance imaging,” Investigative Radiology, vol. 46, no. 7, pp. 434–440, 2011.


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