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Neurofeedback- a Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders – Synergy Neurofeedback
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Neurofeedback- a Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Neurofeedback- a Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders

neurofeedback for autism

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/57570482@N06/

On March 27, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data on the prevalence of autism in the United States. This surveillance study identified 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

From the National Institute for Mental Health (NIHM):

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, “a spectrum,” of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability.

People with ASD often have these characteristics:

  • Ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others
  • Repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests or activities
  • Symptoms that typically are recognized in the first two years of life
  • Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at school or work, or other areas of life

Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled.[1]

Traditional therapies are limited to medication and behavioral therapy, both of which can provide some assistance with the wide range of challenges someone on the spectrum of autism might encounter. Neurofeedback has shown great promise as a tool to help patients on the spectrum with various symptoms, including speech, motor and sensory integration issues, and sociability.

There is growing anecdotal evidence from patients and therapists that neurofeedback is an effective treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. There have been some limited studies on neurofeedback and autism, but funding for these is limited and much more work needs to be done. A recent pilot study with 24 children resulted in a 26% average reduction in total ATEC (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklists) rated autism symptoms, compared to 3% for the control group.

Using a grant from Autism Speaks, Jaime A. Pineda, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of California San Diego tested the hypotheses that if mirror neuron activity is deficient in individuals with ASD 1) a type of intervention known as neurofeedback training (NFT) can be used to normalize mu suppression and hence, mirror neuron activity, and 2) such normalization will lead to improvements in behavior, especially in imitation. Results showed that after NFT, mu rhythm suppression in children with ASD progressed towards normal. [2]

The most important controlled study to date is titled “Assessment-Guided Neurofeedback for Autistic Spectrum Disorder” by Robert Coben, PhD and Ilean Padolsky, PhD, and revealed that after 20 sessions, improved ratings of ASD symptoms reflected an 89% success rate. Other major findings included a 40% reduction in core ASD symptomatology, compared to control groups where there was significant statistical variation.

Some further resources for Neurofeedback for Autism Spectrum Disorders:

Videos with Testimonials about Neurofeedback for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Neurofeedback for the Autism Spectrum By Siegfried and Susan F. Othmer

Footnotes

[1] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml

[2] https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/neurofeedback-training-elicits-behavioral-improvements-individuals-asd

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