Neurofeedback can reduce autistic symptoms by 40% or more, enabling lasting improvements in non-verbal communications, social interactions, and increased ability to develop healthy, meaningful relationships with others.
Signs and Symptoms
Lack of eye contact, limited facial expression, and difficulty in reading body language and social cues makes it difficult for people with autism to start and sustain appropriate conversations as needed to maintain appropriate peer relationships. They often repeat favorite words or phrases and use odd language. Transitioning from one activity to another is typically very difficult, resulting in rigid routines. Many also exhibit repetitive patterns such as hand or finger flapping.
The Center for Disease Control reported in 2012 that one in 88 children have some form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
What’s Going On in the Brain
Electroencephalograph (EEG) data over the last 20 years show that autistic brains have areas of higher connectivity (hypercoherence) in the frontal lobes and lower than normal connectivity (hypoconnectivity) between the frontal lobes and other brain regions especially within the right hemisphere.
Imagine trying to drink from a firehose turned on full blast. Despite plenty of water, you simply cannot drink because it is coming too fast and is under too much pressure. With hypercoherence in the frontal lobes, the autistic brain isn’t able to process all the stimuli arriving at full blast. Conversely, imagine trying to drink from the same hose kinked somewhere along its length, emitting a bare trickle of water. No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot collect enough water to satisfy your thirst. With hypocoherence the areas of the brain responsible for language, social cues, and emotions simply don’t receive enough information coming from the frontal lobes to act upon and can’t adapt to changes in the environment.
How Neurofeedback Helps those with Autism
Recent studies by Coben et al have shown that neurofeedback has an 89% success rate and can remedy the connectivity issues and reduce autistic symptoms by at least 40%. By examining the connectivity maps of the brain, specific Neurofeedback protocols can be selected and applied to decrease the overwhelming communication within the frontal lobes, and encourage increased communication between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain. Research by Kouijzer et al have shown that the effects of neurofeedback are maintained after treatment ceases.
Significant improvements in both general and especially in non-verbal communications enable children to respond more appropriately and relate to and understand others. As their communications improve, their feelings of self-worth increase dramatically. They are finally able to develop meaningful and lasting relationships instead of being ostracized.
Coben, R: Connectivity-Guided Neurofeedback for Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Biofeedback, Vol 35(4), 2007. pp. 131-135
Coben, R, Padolsky, I: Assessment-Guided Neurofeedback for Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Neurotherapy, Vol 11(1), 2007. pp. 5-22
Kouijzer, M. E.J., de Moor, J. M.H., Gerrits, B. J.L., Buitelaar, J. K., van Schie, H. T.: Long-term Effects of Neurofeedback Treatment in Autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, (2008)
Community Report From the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network - 2012, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (2012)