Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Incidence increased by 200% past 10 years
NEUROFEEDBACK – NEW TREATMENT APPROACH
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 marginal success.
A Neurofeedback component (EEG or brainwave biofeedback) as a vital part of the treatment plan for these children, adolescents and adults is now being offered by The Attention Learning Center. This is not a substitute for behavioral and social treatment approaches. However, our treatment experience is showing remarkable improvements in these patients’ attention and behavior. This is making the traditional behavioral treatments more effective. We have seen nonverbal ASD patients begin to use language.
We have seen them begin to make eye contact and increase their socialization dramatically. And to their parents astonishment, and ours, we have seen patients develop a sense of humor. The improvements with ASD students are the most remarkable results we have seen in our 20 years of providing Neurofeedback Therapy. We are excited for the parents and children struggling with these conditions.
Most of us 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 we 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. We call this the “ADD-Asperger’s-Autism Connection.” There are, however, many significant difference from ADD.
Early EEG Biofeedback researchers were inspired by this reconceptualization of Autism as an attentional problem. An examination of the brainwaves of the autistic patient consistently revealed an abnormal EEG signature. The autistic EEG signature is different from the ADD signature, however.
Whereas the ADD patient doesn’t produce enough Beta (fast) Wave activity, most ASD patients produce too much Beta activity! Simply stated, their brains 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.
In the figure below, the red color in the top area of the bottom quarter (Beta division) shows an over focused pattern of brain activity in this autistic patient. This is all possible to identify and treat today because of the development of the QEEG Maps (which look like MRI pictures but without the use chemicals or radiation)
. New QEEG Brain Imaging Assessment
The map in this case helps us to avoid common treatment mistakes such as using a stimulant medication, which only aggravates this over focused ASD brain.
The second identifiable pattern among the ASD patient is the seizure pattern. This can be mild or severe and occurs in one third of ASD patients. At The Attention Learning Center we have found it invaluable to have a neurologist review every EEG map, especially important in the ASD patient with the seizure pattern.
- Non-Drug Computerized Treatment
- Research Evidence Effectiveness (Jarusiewicz, 2002; Thompson, 1995)
- Potential Long-Term Results
- Specific Treatment for Specific Type of ASD
- Home Based Follow-Up Training
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.
The ASD Treatment Program at The Attention Learning Center is led by Dr. Michael Linden. Dr. Linden has been a pioneer in this field since 1984 and is widely recognized for his training and research throughout the country. His innovations include the development of brain mapping technology (QEEG Map) to diagnosis ASD, as well as the use of continuous performance tests (IVA) to measure Neurofeedback improvements.
Dr. Linden has identified 4 subtypes of Autism. They are:
- Over Focused/Over Aroused Pattern (High Beta)
- Abnormal EEG/Seizure Pattern
- High Delta/Theta
- Low Voltage/Metabolic.
Dr. Linden is in the process of identifying two distinct EEG patterns with the Asperger’s patient. Both of these patterns show a disconnection in the areas of the brain associated with recognizing facial gestures, emotions and expressing feeling. These EEG patterns may be the first biological markers available to diagnose Autism and Asperger’s.
Dr. Linden’s commitment to quality treatment include individual neurofeedback sessions for each patient. Group training methods used by some treatment centers fail to provide the support needed for by ASD students to increase their chances for a successful outcome. ASD students require close supervision during therapy to provide frequent prompting, redirection and encouragement.
The research on this treatment is emerging and very promising. Jaruesiewicz, (2002), Journal of Neurotherapy found improvements in attention, behavior, communication and socialization of students with Autism. The results were so successful that one of the largest school districts in New Jersey has approved Neurofeedback as a covered treatment. Dr. Robert Coben, who co-presents with Dr. Linden at many national Neurofeedback meetings, has recently completed a study of QEEG Guided Neurofeedback showing significant improvement on parent and teacher rating scales, CPT tests and QEEG maps. This study has been presented at the September 2005 ISNR meeting and the April 2006 AAPB meeting. 2009 Article: QEEG Subtypes of Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Your Next Step
Call us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Linden. Or if you prefer, you can attend a free seminar to learn more about NeuroFeedback Therapy for the ASD patient. Please feel assured, we will do everything possible to ensure a successful treatment outcome for your loved one.
We do not want to become the biggest,
we want to remain the BEST.
Director – Attention Learning Center, co-authored an article in Autism Science Digest QEEG -Guided Neurofeedback: New Brain-Based Individualized Evaluation and Treatment for Autism