Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) includes Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Asperger's. Behavioral treatment have been the traditional option for ASD along with Sensory Integration Therapy, among others, in order to address the over-reactivity to certain stimuli and to develop adaptive responses in the areas of motor control, attention and social interaction including expressive and receptive language abilities.
Autism is viewed as a unique attention problem related to ADD and ADHD. This viewpoint has been adopted by many clinicians and researchers today, as ASD and ADD share some of the same abnormal genes and neurotransmitters. There are, however, many significant differences from Attention Deficit Disorders.
Examination of the brainwaves of Autistic individuals reveals an abnormal EEG signature. The Autistic EEG signature is different from the ADD one. The ADD individual does not produce enough of the faster Beta wave activity while most ASD individuals produce too much. Their brains appear to be over-focusing. This overstimulation of the brain contributes to many known behaviors such as fascination with certain things, obsessions, repetitive rituals or other self-stimulatory behaviors. That is why we see stereotypic interest in certain toys, movies and especially computer based games.
Using the QEEG it is possible to more specifically target the specific brain wave activity relative to where they are dominant in the brain during certain conditions and also assist in recognizing an identifiable pattern among the ASD individuals in terms of seizure activity. This can be mild or severe and occurs in one third of ASD individuals. When doing a QEEG it is also helpful if a neurologist is able to review the EEG map in order to detect any possible seizure activity. The QEEG process at our Clinic is performed and analyzed by a board certified medical doctor.
Neurofeedback targets the over-production of fast wave activity and at our Clinic it is used with children beginning from the age of three years, as long as they are capable of sitting on their parents lap and tolerant of the application of the sensors. Often, we use Neurofeedback after a Sensory Integration session because the sensory system has received specific input which is calming and organizing, allowing the child to now tolerate the Neurofeedback therapy process better. In addition, we use various sensory diet activities throughout the session to better engage and normalize the child's ability to attend. EEG Neurofeedback with ASD individuals is a complicated process and should be guided when at all possible by the results of a QEEG Brain Map and performed by experienced Neurofeedback clinicians. Current research suggests that ASD may be associated with functional disconnectivity between brain regions so coherence training is an integral component of our protocol. There is evidence for anomalies in the functional connectivity of the medial temporal lobe. Abnormalities have been found specifically in the functional integration of the amygdala and parahippocampal gyrus. These areas are part of the Limbic system. This system is involved in emotions, learning and motivation and has connections to many lobes of the brain so this is an important area to target when performing Neurofeedback in order to specifically impact upon behavior. EEG Neurofeedback has been shown to increase neuro-regulation. In contrast to behavior therapy alone, positive outcomes as a result of neurofeedback training are often achieved over the course of several months as opposed to years of behavioral training. However, it should be noted that research has indicated that Neurofeedback often requires more than double the number of sessions as opposed to other conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder and involves precise training of the brain. Our experience suggests the best results are obtained when they are paired with Sensory Integration Therapy and a home program tailored to the sensory needs of the child.