Acupuncture For Children With Special Needs


[ By Terry Saw ]

This month, we are delighted to speak with Henry Remanlay, an acupuncturist and the Founder of the Remanlay Acureflex Integration (R.A.I) – an exclusive treatment method that combines the benefits of traditional acupuncture with primitive reflex integration concepts, developed especially for special needs children in mind.

Since 2000, Henry has been actively dedicating his life’s work to connecting and treating children with special needs, particularly children with autism. Besides developing the R.A.I, Henry spent years learning, refining and integrating various treatment methods into his offerings, and is also a licensed Brain Gym® instructor, certified medical hypnotherapist, licensed Optimal Brain Organization instructor and a licensed Rhythmic Movement Training instructor.

In this conversation, Henry, who is currently working out his practice based in Indonesia, shares his wisdom and expertise on acupuncture, the benefits and more importantly, its significance as an additional tool or method that can be incredibly valuable to the development of a special needs child.

RC: Based on your experience, please tell us more about TCM as a recommended choice of treatment for children with special needs?

Henry Remanlay: “A parent would do anything to support their child or children with special needs. Hence, they will seek out many therapies, and in the course of this journey, some may discover TCM along the way. In my experience, it is important that parents first educate themselves on what TCM is, the key differences between TCM and conventional medicine and what new perspectives TCM can have on special needs children in order to manage expectations.”

RC: What are some of the common benefits or relief experienced by children with special needs as a result of acupuncture treatments?

HR: “Before I decide to give any acupuncture sessions, I will conduct an important and thorough examination on the child – especially a step called TCM pulse checking. Only then, can I decide what is the most appropriate protocol to prescribe for the child.”

“Even if I decide they require acupuncture, I will carefully consider between an acupuncture session or Tuina (a massage that stimulates the flow of Qi in the body). This is because I need to consider the possibility of an acupuncture session leaving an emotional trauma on special needs children. In some cases, they may get stressed, triggering their primitive reflexes such as the Moro reflex. Only when other methods of treatment do not meet the desired result, then acupuncture may be a viable option.”

“Some benefits can be apparent for example in cases of speech delay and epilepsy. In my clinical experience, children with speech delay who undergo a couple of treatments, can begin to show interest in making conversation, babbling, and echolalia, whilst in severe epilepsy cases, acupuncture is a good adjuvant for epileptic medication to reduce the frequency or incidents of seizure.”

RC: In a nutshell, what can parents expect or how does acupuncture work in a child’s body?

HR: “The major difference between TCM and conventional medicine lies in the acupuncture meridians. Plenty of research have been conducted on the existence of acupuncture meridians, and one of the researches was conducted by my Professor, Dr. Koosnadi Saputra in the ’90s, which showed that acupuncture meridians are the body’s electrical system that runs in connective tissue.”

“To summarize, acupuncture points are electrically active versus non-acupuncture point areas. Acupuncture treatment consists of planned inflammation that changes electrical situations within the body and affects biology functions. Since cell movement is affected by the electrical current that runs in the human body system, acupuncture stimulation affects the electrical communication at the cellular level.”

RC: Are there any side effects that a child could experience or that parents may have to be prepared for?

HR: “As I mentioned before, acupuncture may come as a last resort. In TCM, acupuncture is only one of the various tools to stimulate acupuncture meridians. We also have other tools such as Guasha (using a tool to ‘scrape’ or apply pressure to relief pain or tension), Cupping (the placement of warmed glasses or cups to promote circulation), Tuina, and Qigong (co- ordinated movement, posture and breathing), which also aim to stimulate acupuncture meridians. Even though acupuncture is used, I would do it in a specific way that less painful to the children.”

“In severe cases, acupuncture is worth trying because the expected result is still higher than the side effects such as the possibility of stress during the session. Some of the more common and immediate benefits usually include better sleep, relaxation, and improved digestion.”

RC: What is the typical or recommended treatment plan, or how is a treatment plan devisedfor?

HR:“In my daily practice, I adhere to the methods of Classical Chinese Medicine. I diligently check the pulse every time a child comes to my clinic. I wouldn’t see and treat any child based on a pre-conceived condition or ‘label’.”

“I pay very close attention and focus on what their pulse is ‘telling’ me at the physical, emotional, and energetic levels, and look out for any imbalance before deciding what to do to create or restore balance.”

“I view TCM as a daily life or preventive tool that restores, maintains or improves the quality of life. In addition, it has the ability to help others function better, and not just a merely curative tool that people seek when or after they are ill.”

RC: What do parents need to consider when it comes to deciding if this is the suitable method of treatment for their child?

HR:“TCM allows parents to see their children’s problems from different perspectives. I always educate parents and my other clients to see TCM not just as a tool of treatment or therapy. It is a way to understand their children and themselves, to see any dis-ease from the perspective of the Yin and Yang imbalance, and learn how to bring both Yin and Yang come into balance again.”

“Yin and Yang is a basic philosophy in TCM, in a short and simple explanation, it shows us that everything in our life should reflect moderation and be in balance. Dis-ease happens when we are overindulging or lacking of something in various aspects of our lives including our meals and nutrition, work, sleep or thoughts etc.”

“For example, there is a research conducted in the U.S, where it was proven that there is a correlation between Vitamin D3 deficiency and the incidence of autism. In this modern time, people lack time to sunbathe or spend time outdoors – I will normally ask most parents who bring their special needs children to my clinic, if the mother has spent sufficient time in the sun during their pregnancy but more often than not, they would respond that unfortunately they had to spend most of time working in the office at home.”

“Once our life is out of balance, it will only lead to another imbalance and our body has no choice but to try to create balance within imbalance, leading it into a homeostatic situation and this situation is basically a ticking time-bomb waiting to happen. Once the body is
unable to hold the homeostatic situation, that is when the dis-ease starts progressing.”

RC: What is your advice or tips to parents who are interested to try this method, and are looking for the right practice or a certified practitioner to send their children to?

HR: “It depends on the country’s policy, in Indonesia, every TCM practitioner should be registered under the Ministry of Health. Practitioners must display their licenses on their clinic walls – this is the most basic thing every parent look out for or ask to see.”

“Also, I strongly empower every parent to always ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the practitioner about the assessment steps, or detailed questions about the findings they make on their child.”

RC: Can you tell us a little about the Remanlay Acureflex Integration and how this differs from a REIKI (hand and energy healing) session?

HR: “I have been working with special needs children since 2000, and it is my passion to find answer to my own questions. TCM gave me a different way of seeing and thinking when it comes to helping children with special needs.” “I believe that the most important therapist for special needs children is their own family.

Special needs children only spend around 30 minutes with me at a time, or they may spend a few hours with other therapists from other modalities. But at the end of the day, they spend their whole lives with their family. Which is why, I developed the Remanlay Acureflex
Integration (R.A.I) with the hopes to educate parents to be self-sufficient in supporting their special needs children, even when they’re away from the clinic.”

“Special needs children retain some primitive reflexes such as Fear Paralysis Reflex (FPR) and Moro Reflex. These primitive reflexes are a sign that they are struggling with their own controlled movement. As long as these reflexes are present, it will either demonstrate in the level of development or holding the system to acquire a higher level of controlled movement.”

“In R.A.I, FPR and Moro are the first reflexes to work with, combined with massages, lengthening activity, and acupressure on certain acupuncture points. The aim is to support the children to feel safe to move forward in their learning process.”

RC: Under what circumstances may alternative healing methods not be suitable for children with special needs?

HR: “As long as there is a strong, evidence-based scientific explanation of the method, I believe it is pronounced safe. The world ‘alternative’ implies that traditional methods are inherited by several generations yet lack of evidence to be considered safe, and it may not provide significant and specific results. Secondly, the practitioner of the traditional method should have a competent explanation of what he is doing based on traditional science that he can deliver responsibly.”

RC: Besides attending acupuncture sessions, what are some of your follow-up home practices that you can recommend to parents after or between treatments?

HR: “In my experience, special needs children are ‘honest’, although their behavior is often seen as disturbing by others, are actually a clue for parents to address. I would observe their postures and behavior, look out for any reflex patterns, postural Yin and Yang imbalance, notice what they are looking for, before customizing a home practice that both the parent and child will need to work on in order to fulfill their child’s needs.”

More information on the Remanlay Acureflex Integration and Henry Remanlay’s commendable efforts on improving treatments for special needs children can be found here.