Treating Autism and Asperger’s through Neurofeedback

Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) include Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Asperger’s. These are life-changing, family-altering conditions, usually diagnosed in childhood after heartbroken parents have endured multiple appointments and conflicting diagnoses. Behavioral treatments have been the traditional options for ASD. Medication treatments have had some success.

Most clinicians trained in the 1960-1980s were taught to conceptualize Autism in the category of Schizophrenia. Given the poor contact with reality that patients with moderate and severe ASD seem to have, it’s understandable why diagnosticians included it within psychotic disorders. A breakthrough occurred when clinicians began to view Autism as a unique attentional problem related to ADD and ADHD. This theory has been adopted by many clinicians and researchers today, as ASD & ADD share some of the same abnormal genes and neurotransmitters, in what is called the “ADD-Asperger’s-Autism Connection.” There are, however, many significant differences from ADD.

In early EEG Biofeedback research, an examination of the brainwaves of the autistic patient consistently revealed an abnormal EEG signature. Further research showed that the autistic EEG signature was different from the ADD signature.

While ADD patients don’t produce enough Beta (fast) Wave activity, most ASD patients produce too much Beta activity. Simply stated, the brains of ASD patients appear to be over focusing.

This over stimulation of the brain contributes to many known ASD behaviors such as a fascination with certain things, obsessions, repetitive rituals or other self-stimulating behaviors. This is why we see stereotypic interest in water, favorite movements and other repetitive behaviors.

Neurofeedback therapy targets the over-production of fast wave activity in the Autistic or Asperger’s patient and trains them to lower it. (Unfortunately, this training is only available to ASD patients 4 ½ years of age and older, who have some capacity to interact with the therapist.) The procedure is similar to treating the ADD patient although the treatment protocol is almost the exact opposite! With neurofeedback therapy, the patient is taught to recognize their over focusing and to slow it down. Like the ADD patients, they are conditioning their brainwave patterns to normalize. Right from the beginning we look for these changes in EEG patterns to ensure that the neurofeedback treatment is working. Please contact Crossroads Institute today to learn more about our neurofeedback services.

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