Can Neurofeedback Help with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Neurofeedback training has been used with several thousand autistic spectrum children over the last 15 years, by hundreds of clinicians. There have been several research studies published to support these efforts.

What’s the first thing parents consistently report as their children start training? They usuall notice their child is more calm, manages emotions better, and doesn’t get overwhelmed as easily. There are many other changes, as noted below, but these are typically the first.

Published Research Shows Significant Symptom Improvement

The research indicates neurofeedback reduces symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The most important study published so far included 37 Autistic Spectrum Disorder children. It was conducted by Dr. Robert Coben, a well-respected neuropsychologist from New York and his colleague Dr. Ilean Padolsky. The study is called “Assessment-Guided Neurofeedback for Autistic Spectrum Disorder.”

The results showed improved ratings reported by parents of ASD symptoms for 89% of the experimental group – based on the ATEC scale (from the Autism Research Institute). The ATEC rating scale included symptoms covering 1. Speech/Language/Communication, (14items); 2. Sociability (20 items); 3. Sensory/CognitiveAwareness (18 items);and 4. Health/Physical/Behavior (25 items).

> View the abstract here

How Does Neurofeedback Help?

Neurofeedback uses biofeedback technology to establish new and healthy brain patterns. In ASD, the brain is dysregulated. Studies indicate that individuals with ASD have excessive connectivity in some areas of the brain and deficient connectivity in other areas. Neurofeedback is a very effective way of stabilizing and regulating brain function. By facilitating improvement in areas of abnormal connectivity and improving the functioning of the brain, symptoms are reduced, and positive clinical outcomes result.

A Better Way to Change the Brain without Medication

Improvements resulting from neurofeedback extend beyond the training period, yielding sustainable outcomes. The brain must learn. Once the new brain pattern has been learned, the individual tends not to forget (we don’t usually forget how to ride a bike once that skill has been well learned). With medication, and even supplements, the benefits usually disappear when the treatment is stopped. Unlike medication, neurofeedback has no long-term side effects.

What Improvements Have Been Noted with Neurofeedback in ASD?

* Initiation of touch and contact
* Reduced emotional outbursts
* Slower, clearer speech patterns
* Better responses to parental and teacher instructions
* Less ritualistic and more imaginative thought
* Increased tolerance to change
* Decreased hyperactivity & impulsivity
* Heightened levels of focus and attention
* Diminished anxiety
* Better social skills and enhanced relationships
* More stable and calm
* Increased awareness of feelings and emotions

Neurofeedback: A Powerful Tool in the Treatment of Autism

Neurofeedback improves the quality of life for both individuals with ASD and their families. It not only improves cortical function, but also teaches self-regulation. It has no long-term side effects and offers sustainable results. By combining neurofeedback with a comprehensive bio-psychosocial approach, individuals have the best chance in improving areas of dysfunction. We also encourage clients to learn how to combine nutritional, diet, and metabolic support with neurofeedback so the brain is in the best position for optimum learning.

Case Examples

6-year-old Autistic Boy, very hyperactive, extremely limited speech.

Since starting the neurofeedback, the first thing the mom reported was that he became very “chatty”, though much of the speech initially was unintelligible or at just very limited words. As training increased, he became much more calm. He can sit still for much longer periods of time. He is continuing to speak more in context and in response to what it going on around him. His teachers are reporting he is doing “awesome” in school, really paying attention, and learning better.

Video: 6-year-old Autistic boy using Neurofeedback.

Play VideoInterview with Darlene, his mom, who was referred for neurofeedback by his Occupational Therapist. She reports “the benefits outweighed any other therapies we’ve done.” She reported that he’s become more relaxed and more verbal. He’s more social, interacting with others in ways she never thought he could do, and more conversational. Created by EEGinfo.

8-year-old Autistic Boy, in a special school.

After 1 year of training with neurofeedback, here are some of the changes reported:

* Medications reduced by half.
* He increasingly expressed ideas and asked questions.
* Speech was too rapid to understand. It’s now slower and more distinct. Loud outbursts are now infrequent and softer.
* He asks for hugs and will initiate touch.
* Interacts with siblings and can do some group work at school for the first time.
* Responds more appropriately to parental directions.
* Improved balance and gross motor control.
* Tolerates changes in his environment better than before.
* Mood more stable and positive.

> Courtesy of EEG Spectrum

Research Articles

“In a 2006 study using connectivity-guided neurofeedback, pre-post analyses showed a 40% reduction in autistic symptoms and enhancement of function between the brain and behavior.”

> Click here to read the full research study.

Researcher at California-Davis points to environmental factors increasing autism.

> Click here to read the full article.

Article on compelling research implicating aluminum in vaccines for autism spectrum and ADHD (and Alzheimer’s?)

> Click here to read the full article.