A chinese mind-body exercise improves self-control of children with autism: a randomized controlled trial.

Author: Chan AS, Sze SL, Siu NY, Lau EM, Cheung MC.
Affiliation: Neuropsychology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong SAR, China ; Integrative Neuropsychological Rehabilitation Center, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong SAR, China ; Henan Songshan Research Institute for Chanwuyi, Henan, China.
Conference/Journal: PLoS One.
Date published: 2013 Jul 10
Other: Volume ID: 8 , Issue ID: 7 , Pages: e68184 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068184 , Word Count: 223

Self-control problems commonly manifest as temper outbursts and repetitive/rigid/impulsive behaviors, in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which often contributes to learning difficulties and caregiver burden. The present study aims to compare the effect of a traditional Chinese Chan-based mind-body exercise, Nei Yang Gong, with that of the conventional Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) technique in enhancing the self-control of children with ASD. Forty-six age- and IQ-matched ASD children were randomly assigned to receive group training in Nei Yang Gong (experimental group) or PMR (control group) twice per week for four weeks. The participants' self-control was measured by three neuropsychological tests and parental rating on standardized questionnaires, and the underlying neural mechanism was assessed by the participants' brain EEG activity during an inhibitory-control task before and after intervention. The results show that the experimental group demonstrated significantly greater improvement in self-control than the control group, which concurs with the parental reports of reduced autistic symptoms and increased control of temper and behaviors. In addition, the experimental group showed enhanced EEG activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region that mediates self-control, whereas the PMR group did not. The present findings support the potential application of Chinese Chan-based mind-body exercises as a form of neuropsychological rehabilitation for patients with self-control problems. Chinese Clinical Trial Registry; Registration No.: ChiCTR-TRC-12002561; URL: www.chictr.org.
PMID: 23874533