Description: Craniosacral therapy involves using gentle touch to help balance the cerebrospinal fluid and the membranes and tissues surrounding the spine and brain. It is thought to improve central nervous system function and counteract stress. It may be done in the child’s school with an occupational therapist or privately with a therapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist.

Research Summary: It is implausible that gentle touch would alter central nervous system functions associated with autism spectrum disorders, and there have been no scientific studies with strong experimental designs to support this approach.

Recommendations: Researchers may wish to conduct studies with strong scientific designs to evaluate craniosacral therapy. Professionals should present craniosacral therapy as untested and unlikely to be effective; families who are considering this intervention should be encouraged to evaluate it carefully.

Selected Studies:

Zane, T. (2011). A review of Craniosacral Therapy: Science, fads, and applied behavior analysis. The Current Repertoire: Newsletter of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, 27(3), 2, 5, 11.

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