Autism as defined by the Autism Research Institute is: “A developmental disorder with symptoms that appear within the first three years of life”. Its formal diagnostic name is autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The word “spectrum” indicates that autism appears in different forms with varying levels of severity. That means that each individual with autism experiences their own unique strengths, symptoms, and challenges.
Common symptoms or challenges for individuals who are diagnosed with autism include, sensitivity to sounds and/or touch, difficulty recognizing emotional and social cues, difficulty communicating and interacting with others, poor eye contact, ritualistic behaviors (ie watching the same video over and over again), repetitive behaviors (ie rocking, spinning, flapping of hands or arms), hyper focus, and difficulty with transitions. Individuals with ASD may also be exceptionally intelligent and highly creative.
In helping individuals manage the symptoms of ASD, there are a wide range of treatments. These treatments include: Behavioral, Developmental, Social, Educational, Pharmacological, Psychological, and Complimentary and Alternative treatments. For the best results, it is advised to adhere to a holistic approach that incorporates some or all of the above treatments.
In this blog, however, I want to address the benefits of using EEG-Biofeedback also known as neurofeedback (a complimentary/alternative form of treatment) for managing the symptoms of ASD.
What is Neurofeedback:
Neurofeedback is a type of therapy that uses real-time feedback to help retrain one’s brain wave activity. It is used to improve brain wave functioning by teaching the brain to better self-regulate.
During a neurofeedback session, sensors are placed on one’s scalp to measure the electrical activity of one’s brain. This activity is then displayed on a screen in real-time. The client then learns to control his/her brain wave activity based on the feedback received. Because various brain wave patterns are associated with different moods and states of consciousness, as one learns to regulate the brain wave patterns, one can learn to enhance their mood and lessen negative symptoms arising from anxiety, depression, trauma, traumatic brain injuries, attentional issues, sleep disturbances, and autism.
Some of the specific benefits that individuals frequently report in using neurofeedback for ASD is improved emotional regulation, better focus, less repetitive behaviors, less anxiety and improved sleep.