Does Neurofeedback Work for autism?
We know that kids on the autism spectrum present unique challenges for parents. Many parents learn to adapt to those challenges and their kids live productive lives. With an estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls diagnosed with autism in the United States each year, it would be great to find a natural way to help alleviate some of the more severe symptoms. Neurofeedback therapy has the ability to naturally improve brain functionality for children and adults with autism.
How Does Neurofeedback Help Autism?Neurofeedback uses specialized technology to measure brain wave patterns to find out if you or your child have healthy brainwave patterns. Often with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), it is common to find abnormal brain waves. Research shows that neurofeedback can help bring brain wave function back to optimal patterns. We will go into more detail about the research later in this article. The brain trains by operant conditioning, much like learning to ride a bike, and over time improves areas of abnormal connectivity and improving brainwave function. Due to neuroplasticity, new neural pathways form in the place of old abnormal neural pathways in the brain. This new growth and development of the brain helps you or your child function in a healthy way. A healthier brain equals less of the ASD symptoms.
What Causes Autism?Autism is caused by a variety of factors which lead to specific behavior patterns. There are so many variables that even research is inconclusive of the main source. Studies do point to stress as one of the leading causes of the development of ASD. In a growing toddler the increase of stress can be the result of the following:
Are There Noted Improvements With Neurofeedback For Autism?Many clinics have observed improvements from neurofeedback. These improvements include but are not limited to:
- Reduction of emotional outbursts
- Increased initiation of touch and contact
- Improvement in clarity of speech patterns
- Overall improvement of social skills
- More responsive to parental and teacher instructions
- Less attention deficit and hyperactivity
- Increased imagination and creativity
What Does Research Say About Neurofeedback and Autism Spectrum Disorders?One of the largest studies done on ASD, specifically Asperger’s Syndrome, of 150 patients showed neurofeedback training had benefits in improving symptoms. In this study the authors stated that neurofeedback increased patient’s attention and helped improve academic achievement. In a study titled, “Positive behavioral and electrophysiological changes following neurofeedback training in children with autism”, improvements in sustained attention and on the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) score. A study of autistic children who received neurofeedback showed improvements in social behavior and communication. Here are some more studies to check out: The Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder With Auditory Neurofeedback: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial Using the Mente Autism Device. Carrick FR, Pagnacco G, Hankir A, Abdulrahman M, Zaman R, Kalambaheti ER, Barton DA, Link PE, Oggero E. Front Neurol. 2018 Jul 5;9:537. The effectiveness of neurofeedback training on EEG coherence and neuropsychological functions in children with reading disability. Nazari MA, Mosanezhad E, Hashemi T, and Jahan A Clinical EEG and Neuroscience, 43, 2012, pp 315-22 Optical-imaging-based neurofeedback to enhance therapeutic intervention in adolescents with autism: methodology and initial data. Liu N1, Cliffer S1, Pradhan AH2, Lightbody A1, Hall SS1, Reiss AL3. Neurophotonics. 2017 Jan;4(1) Neurofeedback training produces normalization in behavioral and electrophysiological measures of high-functioning autism. Pineda JA1, Carrasco K, Datko M, Pillen S, Schalles M. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014 Apr 28;369(1644) Initial studies have given research support for neurofeedback as a method of helping the symptoms of Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder and other autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Follow-up studies have also shown that neurofeedback training for ASD has long-lasting effects that can often be permanent.
How Long Does It Take To See Benefits From Neurofeedback Training?Neurofeedback training for ASD can see results in a short period, however, it is common for training to be longer term. As we stated above, once new neural pathways are established the effects of the training are often permanent.
What Happens During Neurofeedback Training?For most kids, neurofeedback training is very relaxing and quite enjoyable. During a normal session, we attach 4 electrodes to measure your brainwave activity- two to the area we are training and two to your ears. Then, you just sit back and watch a show or listen to music. It is as easy as that! To find out more about neurofeedback check out this article – What Is Neurofeedback?
Is Neurofeedback Safe?Research also shows that there are very few side effects to neurofeedback. Most, if not all, of the side effects are temporary. Check out more information about safety here.
What Are The Next Steps To Find Out If Neurofeedback Will Help Me or My Child With ASD?
- Call our office for a consultation with Dr. Dody
- Map your brain with a qEEG
- Get a report of the findings of the brain map
- Start training and seeing improvement