Note: Neurofeedback training is not a method to cure autism or help with the underlying causes of autism and other spectrum-related issues. Training programs can, however, be used to help people see how their brain works in an easy-to-understand way and may help train understanding of certain behaviors. Any interest in neurofeedback training for a person with ASD should be discussed with therapists, counselors, and other professionals before contacting a neurofeedback facility.
Supporters say that neurofeedback helps to change unhealthy or undesirable brainwave activity into normal, healthy, organized activity. This can help the brain work better.
Supporters of neurofeedback therapy claim it can help autistic people – for example, by improving their social skills, communication, speech, and ability to focus. They say it can also reduce seizures and self-stimulatory behavior.
The methodology used in some neurofeedback training programs may be helpful to some people with autism in tandem with a recommendation & cooperation from a person’s doctor, therapist, or any program they are enrolled in.
In the 1960s Dr. Joseph Kamiya from the University of Chicago successfully trained people to control their brainwaves. Around the same time, Barry Sterman at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) found that neurofeedback could help patients with epilepsy.
Neurofeedback has been used to treat people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) since the 1980s. Since the late 1990s, it has been used with autistic children.
What is the idea behind neurofeedback therapy for autistic people?
Brain cells produce electrical pulses that communicate with each other. This produces brainwaves. These brainwaves show how much brain activity is happening when we think, feel and behave in different ways.
Brainwaves change according to how you’re feeling or what you’re doing. For example, your brainwaves are slower when you’re relaxed or sleeping, and they’re faster when you’re alert and concentrating.
In neurofeedback therapy, an electroencephalographic (EEG) machine monitors your brainwave patterns. These patterns show up on a computer screen as lines, graphs or even simple games. You can consciously control your brainwave activity to make the lines or graphs move.
Supporters of neurofeedback say it can help autistic children develop new brainwave patterns. They believe that this can help improve speech, behavior, and other characteristics of autism.
Neurofeedback Training Methodology
What does a neurofeedback training session look like? One or more sensors are placed on a person’s scalp and/or ear lobes. These are attached to an EEG machine, which shows the person’s brainwaves on a computer screen as lines, graphs, or a simple video game. For example, the game might show a car driving or a ball rising and falling.
The person is asked to make the line, graph or object move with their brain. As desirable brain activity increases, the video game moves faster or the ball rises. Undesirable brain activity slows the ball down.
Gradually, the brain learns new patterns. Neurofeedback sessions might last 20-60 minutes, usually alternating between training and rest. At first, a person might have 3 or more sessions a week, with fewer sessions over time.
The number of sessions people need varies. One person might do 15 sessions, and another might do 40 or more. Parent education, training, support, and involvement are important. If your child is having neurofeedback therapy, your only involvement is taking your child to sessions.
Neurofeedback Therapy at NHA
Here at Neurohealth Associates, we specialize in Neurofeedback therapy. Neurofeedback may be helpful for training your mind, especially if you are unsure about putting yourself or your child on medication. This easy, noninvasive therapy can painlessly improve your mental health condition and outlook on life. Schedule a consultation with NeuroHealth Associates today and find out how we can help you.