What is cranial osteopathy?
Cranial osteopathy is a specialist field of osteopathy. The therapy involves very gently manipulating areas of the head to reduce tightness and strain and help with problems in the nervous system.
You might also hear this therapy called ‘craniosacral therapy’.
Who is cranial osteopathy for?
Although cranial osteopathy can be used on anybody, it’s usually done on babies.
What is it used for?
It’s claimed that cranial osteopathy can reduce characteristics of autism. Supporters of the therapy say that the benefits range from small reductions in hyperactive behaviour to major improvements in communication.
Where does cranial osteopathy come from?
Cranial osteopathy was first developed in the early 1900s in the United States, but it’s not clear when cranial osteopathy was first used as a therapy for autistic people.
What is the idea behind cranial osteopathy for autistic children?
The fluid that surrounds our brain and spine is called cerebrospinal fluid. Supporters of cranial osteopathy believe that this fluid pulses in a rhythm. If bones in the head move or the joints between the bones become restricted, this affects how well the fluid can circulate. Supporters believe that this might happen because of problems during pregnancy, birth or other traumas. They say that this pressure affects the function of the nervous system as well as overall development. They also say it causes learning disorders, developmental disorders like autism and other problems.
Supporters claim that gentle manipulation of the bones in the head can restore the rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid and help its circulation. When cranial osteopathy is used as a therapy for autistic children, supporters claim that it addresses the neurological dysfunction that causes autism.
What does cranial osteopathy involve?
Typically, cranial osteopathy involves 30-60 minute consultations over a period of weeks or months. During these consultations, the practitioner uses gentle touch to manipulate the muscles and bones around the head.
Does cranial osteopathy help autistic children?
There’s little or no evidence that cranial osteopathy is an effective therapy for autistic children.
Who practises cranial osteopathy?
Osteopaths with appropriate training can do cranial osteopathy.
Where can you find a practitioner?
You can find osteopaths by going to Osteopathy Australia – Find an osteopath. You’ll need to ask whether your chosen practitioner specialises in cranial osteopathy.
If you’re interested in cranial osteopathy, see your GP or one of the other professionals working with your child. They can talk with you about its risks and benefits.
You could also talk about it with your NDIA planner, early childhood partner or local area coordinator, if you have one.
Parent education, training, support and involvement
If your child is having cranial osteopathy, your only involvement is taking your child to sessions.
The cost of this therapy depends on how many sessions a child has with an osteopath. Medicare doesn’t fund this therapy. Some private health care funds will cover a portion of the consultation fee. You can claim this immediately if your provider has HICAPS.
You can contact the NDIS to find out whether you can include the cost of cranial osteopathy in children’s NDIS plans.
Therapies and supports for autistic children range from behaviour therapies and developmental approaches to medicines and alternative therapies. When you understand the main types of therapies and supports for autistic children, it’ll be easier to work out the approach that will best suit your child.